'MKs, ministers are delegitimizing Supreme Court'

Beinisch accuses MKs, ministers of incitement against High Court, trying to "undermine its ability to protect the country's democratic values."

By
December 1, 2011 20:46
2 minute read.
Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch

Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch 311. (photo credit: Dudi Vaknin / Pool)

 
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Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch accused politicians, Knesset members and ministers on Thursday of conducting a deliberate campaign of incitement and delegitimization against the country's most important legal institution.

Referring to a series of bills that seek to change the way justices are appointed to the Supreme Court, Beinisch said that for the past several years, politicians had tried to "damage the Supreme Court, to reduce its powers, and prevent it from carrying out its functions, and thus to undermine its ability to protect the country's democratic values."

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In an unusually harsh speech at the conference of the Israeli Association of Public Law, the Supreme Court President - who is set to retire next February - blasted politicians for attempting to weaken the judiciary.

"The writing was on the wall, warnings were heard but nobody heeded them," said Beinisch. "For several years, a campaign has been conducted, which has gained momentum every year, to weaken the judicial system headed by the Supreme Court. This is a campaign of delegitimization led by several politicians, Knesset members and ministers who take advantage of their immunity to give false and misleading information to the public."

Beinisch added that after misleading the public,  politicians then declared that the same public had no confidence in the Supreme Court and in its judiciary.

"This is a campaign of propaganda and incitement conducted openly against the Court and its justices," the Supreme Court President added.

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Beinisch said that the Supreme Court was now, in terms of its justices, the most pluralistic it has ever been, and noted that those justices were from diverse parts of society and had worked hard to achieve their current professional positions.

In response, MKs blasted the Supreme Court President's speech.

"The attempts by the Supreme Court president to silence the criticism and to deter the critics are doomed to failure," said Yariv Levin (Likud). "Criticism of the Supreme Court and about the dark deals made to select justices is much-needed, and its purpose is to strengthen Israeli democracy. Whoever does not understand that this is our duty, does not know what democracy."

MK Arieh Eldad (National Union) said that Beinisch's speech was "unrestrained".

"The closer she gets to her retirement date, the farther she gets from one of the first lessons we learn in citizenship classes in a democratic country: the people are sovereign and rule through their elected representatives," said Eldad, referring to the fact that Beinisch retires in February. "Beinisch senses that the people are tired of the democracy of the Supreme Court."

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