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Ombudsman Faults Judge on NIF-Related Case

Judiciary Ombudsman justifies Legal Forum's complaint against Justice Ruth Ronen.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 6/30/2011, 5:15 PM / Last Update: 6/30/2011, 5:24 PM

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The Ombudsman's Office of the Israeli Judiciary has found a complaint filed against a judge for alleged political conflict of interest was justified.

In April 2011, The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel filed a complaint of conflict of interest to the Ombudsman's Office of the Israeli Judiciary regarding a court decision by Tel Aviv District Court Judge Ruth Ronen on a sensitive political case. Ronen had ordered the Israeli Ministry of Defense to hand over to an NGO named "Gisha" an internal document dealing with the supply of food to Gaza . 
 
The Ombudsman decided to accept the complaint and found the Legal Forum's accusations justified.
 
The Legal Forum explained that Gisha’s goal is to allow full freedom of movement and family unity to the Arab population of Gaza, regardless of Israel’s security needs. Judge Ronen accepted Gisha's claims based on the Freedom of Information Law, despite the fact that the law specifies that the State does not have to supply information that could "hurt the State's security, its foreign relations and the security of the public."
 
Attorney Hila Cohen of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel filed the complaint to the Ombudsman based on the fact that Judge Ronen's husband, Mr. Ze'ev Bergman, is a member of the board of the New Israel Fund, which directly supported Gisha in the past and continues to support it through Shatil, the NIF's operative arm.
 
The Ombudsman, former Supreme Court Judge Eliezer Goldberg, decided to accept the complaint and justified the Legal Forum's accusations, stating that there is a clear conflict of interest and that Judge Ronen should have removed herself from the case due to her husband's position on the NIF Board, and its indirect support of Gisha through Shatil.
 
The Legal Forum called the decision “a significant achievement.”
 
“Once again the Legal Forum has revealed an instance of political bias in the judicial system, which continues to incline towards the political left,” it stated. “The New Israel Fund in particular is known as an anti-Zionist organization which has influenced major segments of Israel's judicial, journalistic and political elites, through a network of non-governmental organizations, such as Gisha. The NIF has also been accused of aiding Israel's enemies in demonizing Israel, especially in the context of the Goldstone report, which criticized Israel's right to self-defense.”