Former chief justice Meir Shamgar.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
THE ISRAELI Supreme Court was founded in September 1948, a few months after the establishment of the state. In its first 35 years the court acquired enormous prestige for its sound judgments, its independence and for gradually developing the law and safeguarding human rights.During this period the Court exercised self-restraint and respected the separation of powers. It refrained from intervening in the government’s economic and security policy decisions, and recognized that certain issues were not justiciable. When Israel established diplomatic relations with the Federal Republic of Germany, the German government appointed Rolf Pauls, who had served as an officer in the Wehrmacht during World War II, as its first ambassador to Israel. A petition was submitted to the Supreme Court to prevent his entry into the country. In dismissing the petition, Justice Sussman stated succinctly: “The government has decided as it sees fit … The Knesset endorsed the government’s decision … The considerations are not legal ones … and this court is not authorized or able to decide those questions.”