Supreme Court
Supreme CourtFlash 90

Nine Supreme Court judges will hold a discussion on Sunday to discuss the limitations of the crime of "insulting a public worker," in an attempt to define when insults against police, judges and other public figures are an offense liable to jail time.

According to police statistics passed to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel,1,620 indictments for insulting a public worker were submitted in 2014 alone - and in 131 of those cases the "insult" clause was the only offense charged against the citizen.

That figure represents a considerable increase from 2013, when 1,255 indictments were submitted for the clause, reports Walla! News.

Sunday's discussion will be held around the petition of Elitzur Segel, a resident of Ofra in Samaria who, in 2004, published an article in the Manhigut Yehudit movement's newsletter on the background of the Disengagement plan from Gaza that was then being heavily discussed.

Segel criticized then IDF Chief Rabbi Yisrael Weiss, writing, "the IDF Chief Rabbi is a partner to sexual immorality - which one must die before committing...the IDF Chief Rabbi is a partner in the desecration of the Shabbat which is liable to stoning."

"The IDF Chief Rabbi is a partner to negating the mitzvah of settling the land of Israel...he is a partner to causing thousands of Jews to commit crimes forbidden by the Torah," charged Segel.

Segel's article did not directly reach Rabbi Weiss, until an MK from the Labor party submitted a complaint to the police, and in July 2006 it was decided to issue an indictment against Segel for insulting a public worker.

The statements are protected by the freedom of speech, Segel's lawyer Itzik Bam argued throughout his long trial, but the man was nevertheless convicted by a magistrate's court.

He petitioned to a district court that rejected the petition, and now Segel's case is arriving before the Supreme Court, which will have to decide on a case determining what constitutes valid criticism, and what constitutes a criminal offense.