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Lawmakers Slam Chief Justice's Diatribe Against Reform

Nationalist lawmakers came out swinging Friday after Supreme Court president Dorit Beinisch accused them of inciting against her court.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 12/2/2011, 2:00 PM

MK Elkin
MK Elkin
Flash 90

Nationalist lawmakers joined Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) on Friday in condemning a diatribe by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch against lawmakers seeking judicial reform.

Beinisch railed against lawmakers during a meeting of the Israeli Association of Public Law, saying lawmakers sought to "damage the High Court, reduce its powers, and prevent it from carrying out its functions, and undermining its ability to protect the country's democratic values."

"This is a campaign of delegitimization led by several politicians, Knesset members and ministers who take advantage of their immunity to give false and misleading information to the public," Benisch claimed.

Coalition chairman Ze'ev Elkin (Likud), one of the initiators of a proposed law that would require prospective Supreme Court justices be vetted by a Knesset committee, said, "I regret to say that every time the Chief Justice speaks about the separation of powers she demonstrates a lack of basic understanding of what democracy is - forgetting that the public selects representatives in the Knesset to legislate on their behalf."

Elkin continued, "If the Chief Justice has her way she will not only run the judiciary, but will either replace the legislature altogether or act as a censor with veto powers above it. The words of the Chief Justice are a clear example of wild incitement against the Knesset."

"I respect the Supreme Court and attach great importance to judicial independence, but I will not bow before a campaign of threats and intimidation and will continue to lead to press for dialog and reforms of our judicial system to ensure its legitimacy," he added.

MK Yariv Levin (Likud) said, "The attempt of Chief Justice Beinisch to silence criticism and to deter reform is doomed to failure. Criticism of the Supreme Court and the dark deals it makes in selecting judges is essential criticism, aimed at strengthening our democracy. Whoever does not understand that this is our basic duty to the public does not understand what democracy is."

MK Yaakov Katz (National Union) said, "All Knesset members have great respect for the Supreme Court as an institution. The lack of trust of Israel's public in the court - as expressed in opinion polls - stems from a sense that the court is not conducting itself properly, to say the least. The monolithic composition of the court - which lacks settlers, religious, hareidim, and nationalists - demonstrates contempt for Israel's people on a daily basis."

"Beinisch never cried out in agitation or started a conference to speak out against the incitement being waged against the settlers  - hundreds of thousands of people who form the backbone of Israeli society to reproduce the Zionist spirit and the values of our founding generation that serve all of Israeli society: the military, settlement, and education.".

MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari  (National Union) also responded to Beinisch saying she "should remove her the robe and go home. She was not elected by the public and yet allows herself to try to run the country and dictate its ideology."

"Beinisch has completely lost it," said MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union), "as she approaches her retirement date she has demonstrated a lack of understanding of what you learn in any first-rate class on citizenship in a democracy - that the people is sovereign rule through their chosen representatives. Beinisch clearly senses the people tired of the dictatorship of the Supreme Court and the legislature is acting on that. Even on the eve of her retirement Beinisch is trying to rule the people."

Activist Baruch Marzel said, "The court cannot only be drawn from a small group of Ashkenazi judges representing two percent of the nation who seek to manage the state from the bench and annul majority decisions made by the representatives of the people."

The Komemiyut movement led by Rabbi Musa Cohen also responded strongly to Benisch's remarks, "Benisch's statement reflects the sin of pride of the Supreme Court justices. The criticism through Beinisch off balance, which underscores that it hit is mark."

"Beinisch has failed to acquired an informed notion of democratic jurisprudence and demonstrated how the criticism voiced of her court was just. Benisch has revealed the sense of superiority held by the court - that they have monopoly on wisdom and prudent leadership," the group continued.

The organization also commended lawmakers seeking judicial reform, "The politicians Beinish is so disgusted with well know what democracy is and how the legal system should be functioning. We commend these public officials and encourage them to continue to strive to reform the Supreme Court and return it to its proper role in a democratic country."