friedmann 224.88 AJ.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann announced Wednesday that he has decided not to restrict the right of virtually all Israelis and those living under Israeli administration to petition the High Court of Justice.
Until now, Friedmann had called for putting an end to the practice, which has taken root over the past 30 years, of allowing anyone to petition the court, including nongovernmental organizations representing various sectors of the population and those petitioning against government corruption. He had intended to include the restriction in new legislation that he is preparing aimed at making changes in current High Court procedures.
During the first 30 years, the court would only accept petitions filed by individuals who were directly and personally affected by an action of the government.
However, Friedmann said he would try to include in the new legislation criteria to allow justices to fine those who petition the High Court without any basis, to discourage those wasting the court's time.
Friedmann made the announcement on Wednesday during a meeting with a group of homosexuals and lesbians who asked him to clarify whether a new bill he is promoting would harm their right to automatically inherit their partners' legacies if they die without a will, as is the case with heterosexual couples.
Friedmann's communications adviser, Tzahi Moshe, told The Jerusalem Post the justice minister promised them that the new inheritance law, which defines a couple as a "man and a woman," would not exclude them.
Friedmann, whose critics accuse him of doing all he can to weaken the Supreme Court, including in its capacity as High Court of Justice, has been particularly attacked until now for declaring his intention to restrict "standing" - that is, the right to petition the High Court.
On Monday, during a symposium at the Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem, former Supreme Court president Meir Shamgar, who until then had never openly criticized Friedmann, called on him not to limit standing.
On Wednesday, during a ceremony marking the new year at the Israel Bar headquarters in Jerusalem, it was the turn of Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch.
"We must stand on guard to protect the rule of law," she said, "and the guarantee for maintaining it is the fact that the doors of the [High Court] will be open when it comes to matters of violations of the law or illegal acts by the governing institutions in the context of their work and, of course, when it comes to causing injury to human rights. These doors must not be closed to the general public."
Interestingly enough, although Friedmann must have known by Tuesday that he did not intend to change the current policy of standing, he chose not to announce it in Beinisch's presence - an act which might have soothed the troubled relations between them.
Israel Bar chairman Yori Geiron, who had also called on Friedmann not to restrict standing at the ceremony in Jerusalem, welcomed the minister's announcement that he would not do so.