Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lavished flattery upon Israel’s Supreme Court and its chief justice Tuesday. He also opined that war is not on the horizon.
At a graduation ceremony for Israel’s National Security College, Olmert segued into a monologue praising the Supreme Court, whose chief justice he had traded verbal barbs with just days earlier.
“Among the elements which compose the basis of our national strength, beyond its military strength, I wish to emphasize the importance and role of the judicial system,” Olmert said. “In my opinion, this system today is a central component in our national strength. First and foremost, this is due to the intensive and vital involvement of the judicial system regarding matters of security. In the expanding arena of international law, our judicial system has become the ‘flak jacket’ of the State of Israel. That same flak jacket grants us, at [both] the diplomatic level and members of the military, the moral, conscientious and legal security to take various steps in the framework imposed on us to lead the citizens of Israel.”
The Prime Minister, the fate of whose numerous corruption investigations may be decided by the court, went even further: “It also grants every citizen in the country a stable basis for living in a democratic framework, protects them from injustice and corruption of the public and governmental mechanisms, and also provides a solid foundation for justice and equality among citizens. The credit for these accomplishments must be given to the judicial system, and primarily to the engine which leads it - the Supreme Court. I am proud of our Supreme Court, headed by the Honorable President Dorit Beinisch, and as part of my role as Prime Minister, I attribute great importance to protecting its independence and its ability to continue serving as the fortress of democracy and its protector.”
Olmert went on to discuss the perception that war is on the horizon: “I believe with all my heart that this summer and the autumn after it will not be too hot [ed. - reference to climate of war]. We cannot exaggerate by creating an atmosphere of the eve of war. Our neighbors know very well that we prefer to sit with them and discuss peace, rather than prove our great strength to them. In the north and the east live millions of people who want tranquility, quality of life and quiet - just as we do. We yearn to share our hopes with them and the opportunity that such a life can provide for us all.”
Legal Forum Responds to Speech
The Land of Israel Legal Forum said Olmert’s speech was a cynical heaping of praise upon the justices who are to decide his fate. "It is unfit that someone who is tangled up in corruption scandals give grades to the justice system,” Nachi Eyal, the Legal Forum’s Director, said. “It seems Olmert is buttering up the courts ahead of their decisions on his case.”
Just last week, Beinisch herself was reported to have told her aides that Olmert was "terrorizing the court" due to his desire to "destroy the system that will be ruling on his case."
Beinisch made the comment after Olmert had quipped that the Supreme Court did not give orders to the government, in response to a court order requiring the state to abide by its commitments to the city of Sderot.