Lapid livid after Smotrich insults deceased judge

Religious Zionist Party head said recently departed Miriam Naor was just another judge who destroyed the Supreme Court.

Religious Zionist Party head Bezalel Smotrich is seen addressing the Knesset on July 5, 2021. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Religious Zionist Party head Bezalel Smotrich is seen addressing the Knesset on July 5, 2021.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich was the only politician who issued criticism in his eulogy for former Supreme Court president Miriam Naor, who died on Monday at the age of 74. She served as chief justice from 2015-2017.

In an interview with the right-wing radio station Galei Israel, Smotrich said he felt a personal dilemma because remaining positive would be the statesmanlike thing to do, but he could not forget that Naor had permitted the destruction of homes in Ofra, Amona and Netiv Ha’avot.

Smotrich also criticized Naor for disqualifying the IDF draft bill for haredim (ultra-Orthodox), which has caused legislative challenges for years, and for canceling the participation of the country’s top figures at a ceremony that marked the 50th anniversary of liberating Judea and Samaria.

“She was just another judge in the chain of chief justices since Aharon Barak destroyed their honorable institution,” Smotrich said. “It is hard for me to be hypocritical, like [former justice minister Ayelet] Shaked, who called her a beloved friend.”

Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) said it was outrageous that Smotrich spoke that way on the day Naor died.

     Former Supreme Court President Miriam Naor at the Supreme Court hall during a ceremony for outgoing Supreme Court Judge Uri Shoham in Jerusalem on August 2, 2018. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)     Former Supreme Court President Miriam Naor at the Supreme Court hall during a ceremony for outgoing Supreme Court Judge Uri Shoham in Jerusalem on August 2, 2018. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

“Smotrich’s decision to malign the president of the Supreme Court moments after her death is a new low in Israeli public life,” he wrote on Twitter. “He and his party will not stop until they destroy the last vestiges of statesmanship and coexistence in the state.”

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar said Smotrich’s attack was “not Jewish and not humane.”

Speaking at a meeting of his New Hope faction meeting, Sa’ar denied reports that he has been negotiating his party’s MKs returning to the Likud in the event of the departure of current Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu as part of a plea agreement. Sa’ar called the reports “fake news.”

“We see what is happening in the sword fight inside Likud,” Sa’ar said. “We have no interest in taking part in that or taking a side. The Likud should handle its internal battle on its own to its own delight without involving us. I have no intention of returning to the Likud.”

In an obvious reference to Netanyahu without mentioning his name, Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid told his Yesh Atid faction that a bill must be passed immediately that would prevent anyone who committed a crime involving moral turpitude from serving as a prime minister, minister, Knesset member or mayor in Israel.

Lapid revealed at the meeting that he maintains good and constant ties with former IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot.

“I think it is a terrific idea that Eisenkot and people like him enter politics, and of course an even more terrific idea that he join Yesh Atid,” Lapid said.