MK Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz (National Union) answered criticism by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin on Monday saying Rivlin failed to establish the facts before launching his salvo.
“The Knesset Speaker can criticize any comments made in the Knesset or in committee meetings, but he has no right to complain about what MKs say elsewhere, and certainly not when his complaints are based on rumors, without clarifying the matter,” Katz said.
“I have never hidden my criticism of the way the High Court conducts itself, reflecting the opinion of many in this country," Katz clarified. "On the one hand, I have nothing but full respect for the institution of the High Court, and for its standing and work.”
However, Katz said, there were many who felt a need to express “their disappointment, over and over, at the way the court has been run by Aharon Barak and the current honored President Dorit Beinisch."
The Katz-Rivlin row comes just one day after the first of a slate of judicial reform bills was killed in a ministerial committee after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed his opposition to the bills and vowed to protect the court.
Netanyahu said Sunday's bill, which would have introduced the concept of legal standing into Israel's court system, would "impair the independence of Israel's courts."
Standing, however, is a bedrock principle of Western common law that ensures courts not be flooded by third-party lawsuits, which is the case in Israel at present. The seminal concept of standing – albeit in less crystallized form – is also found in the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds.
A second judicial reform bill that would require prospective Supreme Court justices be vetted by a Knesset committee - much as their US counterparts are vetted by the Senate - is also expected to be killed in committee on Netanyahu's orders.
Critics of the current appointment system say it essentially allows the Supreme Court to self-elect its members - and has led to a court that does not reflect the broad range of views held by the Israeli populace. If the candidates were vetted and the choices reflected the majority in the Knesset, that could change with each election, while now, the court, just as politicized, has retained an unchallenged leftist makeup for many years.