Ronit Poznansky-Katz
Ronit Poznansky-KatzCourts website

The revelation Sunday that a judge coordinated her decision on an upcoming hearing with an investigator could have severe repercussions for the Israeli justice system and jeopardize the public’s faith in Israel’s courts, a senior justice official said.

Earlier this week, a poll conducted by the Rafi Smith Research Institute on behalf the Gilad Saar Law Firm found that a full 57% of Israelis don’t trust Israel’s legal system.

Younger respondents were more likely to express distrust, with 63% of Israelis ages 18 to 29 saying they did not have faith in Israel’s courts, compared to 61% of respondents ages 30-49 and 48% of those 50 and over.

This scandal, however, could cause an ever greater decline in public trust in the judicial system, a senior justice official told Israel Hayom.

“This is the Day of Atonement [Yom Kippur] for the justice system,” the official said.

“This is the most serious matter I’ve ever encountered. It’s just terrible. And it’s made even worse by the fact that it was done maliciously. The justice system is supposed to be the ‘Holy of Holies’ in any democratic society. If the public loses faith in the system, it will be a tragedy with repercussions for generations.”

Former Justice Minister Moshe Nissim (Likud) said the revelation was a “black day” for the justice system.

“I see the revelation that an Israeli judge coordinated sentencing, a day before a court decision, with one of the sides as a black day for the Israeli judicial system. I have no way of knowing whether that is the case, but I hope that nothing like this ever happened before in the justice system.”

Nissim also referenced the Rafi Smith poll, suggesting public faith could fall even more.

“Unfortunately, much of the public does not have faith in the justice system – and public faith is something the justice system needs to survive. According to a poll [Sunday], 57% of the population doesn’t trust the court system. After this case, I fear that public trust will decline even more.”

On Sunday, Channel 10 revealed a series of instant messages on the WhatsApp chat program between Judge Ronit Poznansky-Katz, and an investigator from the Israel Securities Authority.

The messages concerned an upcoming hearing for suspects arrested as part of the “Case 4000” investigation, which centers on suspicions that a Netanyahu aide provided chief Bezeq shareholder Shaul Elovitch with regulatory benefits in exchange for sympathetic coverage to the prime minister and his wife on the Walla! news website, which is owned by Elovitch as well.

Earlier this week, Shlomo Filber, the Director General of the Communications Ministry and a close associate of Netanyahu, signed a deal to turn state’s evidence in the case.

In the messages, the Israel Securities Authority official informed Poznansky-Katz of his agency’s intention to request that several suspects’ arrests be extended, telling the judge to “act surprised” when he makes the request in court.

“I’ll practice looking surprised”, replied Poznansky-Katz.

“We’ll request three [more days], but you can really just give [us an extension] of two days,” the official wrote.

“If you keep telling me everything, I’m going to really work to act surprised,” Poznansky-Katz said.

Following the revelation, the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court ordered that Poznansky-Katz be removed from the case, and the matter assigned to another judge.

Minister of Public Security MK Gilad Eldan (Likud), interviewed on Galei Yisrael this morning, said that the judge must be disbarred and the investigator fired forthwith.