Livni defends Friedmann - who focuses on reforms

"There are people outside this building who have the feeling there are two sides; There are not different sides here, only one side."

friedmann livni 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
friedmann livni 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Outgoing Justice Minister Tzipi Livni on Sunday stole the show not only because of her popularity, but because she was the only one who directly addressed the uproar over the appointment of her successor, Daniel Friedmann, during a change-of-the-guard ceremony at the Justice Ministry. "There are people outside this building who have the feeling there are two sides, one of which wants to destroy the Supreme Court and the other which is trying to frame victims," she said. "Worse than that, some people are beginning to believe that this is normal." Livni said this portrayal of the situation was completely unfounded. On the one hand, there was nothing wrong with disagreeing with the Supreme Court justices and having an agenda, just as there was nothing wrong with the justices having an agenda. On the other hand, "in Israel, no one frames anyone, not in this building and not elsewhere." Livni said the entire legal system had the same goal, to restore public confidence in the judicial and law enforcement systems. "There are not different sides here," she said. "There is only one side." Friedmann did not refer to the controversy at all. Instead, he presented an outline of some of the changes he wanted to implement. These included: Upgrading the magistrate's and district courts, which, in his opinion, do the bulk of the judicial work and have direct contact with the public. Bringing civil and criminal lawyers from the private sector into the judicial system because of their experience and familiarity with real life situations. Cope with the "huge" crime situation by establishing a team of judges that deals only with serious crime cases and hears cases daily. Friedmann said he had received a promise that he would get a few new judicial slots and a few more slots for prosecutors to handle these cases. Friedmann added that the Attorney-General's Office was already preparing two new laws, one establishing a disciplinary court for elected officials and another establishing standards for punishment in criminal cases. He said the law should distinguish between chronic criminals and people who have erred once. He also said he was interested in legislation to fight bureaucratic ineptitude such as failing to respond to letters from the public within a reasonable amount of time. Friedmann added that he had also met with Interior Minister Roni Bar-On to discuss legislation aimed at protecting the rights of new immigrants and other minority groups.