Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) spoke on Monday at the fifteenth annual Jerusalem Conference, slamming Israel's justice system and the way judges are appointed.
Speaking at the conference, Levin refused to answer questions about what Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should do if he is indicted, instead saying that "the public needs to know that we have an exceptional Prime Minister."
Police are conducting two parallel investigations of the Prime Minister. The first, dubbed “Case 1000”, began in December 2016 and centers around claims the Prime Minister improperly received gifts from a number of wealthy businessmen.
In “Case 2000” police are probing allegations that Netanyahu and Yediot Ahronot publisher Arnon “Nuni” Mozes conspired to soften the paper’s anti-Netanyahu line in exchange for passage of legislation barring the free distribution of Israel Hayom, a rival paper that has cut into Yediot’s readership in recent years.
"The left is trying to create public pressure, because they have no way of replacing the coalition in elections. We are a democratic country, and the only ones who change the ruling coalition are the voters at the election booths. This isn't a police state."
Slamming the opposition leaders, Levin said, "[Tzipi] Livni (Zionist Union) came up to the Knesset podium and claimed that a Prime Minister who was interrogated, and the government he leads, are corrupt. I told her that that was hypocrisy, reminding her that the person who heads the opposition, Yitzhak Herzog Zionist Union), refused to cooperate in an interrogation of alleged corruption in the campaign of Ehud Barak which he headed, but that did not prevent her from running with his party..... My friends, we cannot be silent in the face of this hypocrisy. We need to speak up, and to insist that there be complete support for the Prime Minister. In a democratic country, every person is innocent until proven guilty."
Levin slammed the way judges are appointed, as well as the justice system in general.
"We need to make an existential change that will end the judges' power to elect others like themselves," he said, referrring to the Judicial Selection Committee in which the judges are the deciding factor. "We had an opportunity recently, when the new Supreme Court Chief Justice was chosen."
"The Judicial Selection Committee needed to insist on choosing one of two candidates for Chief Justice [instead of automatically choosing according to seniority], and it should have been forbidden to choose a candidate whom all the judges agree on. All we need to do is shorten the judges' terms and subject them to labor laws and retirement age, like every other citizen. In a short time, we'll have young blood in the justice system."