Justice Minister Prof. Daniel Friedmann mounted his most blistering attack on the Supreme Court to date in an interview published in the Hebrew-language newspaper Yediot Acharonot Friday.
The interviewers, Nachum Barnea and Tovah Tzimuki, confronted Friedmann with an assertion that his main supporters today are "Shas and the radical right."
"By the same token, the Supreme Court's allies are Meretz and the Arabs," he answered. "It is true that Shas and the right support me on many matters, but there are also large gaps between us. My stands enjoy the support of 80% of the Knesset members. It is true that within Labor there is a group that is close to Meretz and is trying to sweep others after it, but within the party I have a very large base of support."
'Supreme Court Behaving Like Religious Party'
"The Supreme Court is behaving like a political party," Minister Friedmann said. "In fact, it is behaving like a party with a religious character. It does things that I do not believe any Western court would dare to do: it disseminates propaganda, lobbies journalists and Knesset members, holds meetings with Knesset members.
"This lobby hurts the court's neutrality. There is a situation in which some [political] parties are with it and some are not. Then these parties file petitions to the High Court," he said, presumably hinting that the outcome of the petitions is connected with the degree of favor the parties enjoy in the court's eyes.
'My stands enjoy the support of 80% of the Knesset members.'
Friedmann said: "There is a group in the Labor Party that may want me deposed. It is making a lot of noise in the press. The question is – how much public power does it have? Let's say Ehud Barak wanted to depose me – would he receive more or less votes as a result? There is a brainwashing process here that is highly unsuccessful. There is a gaping chasm between the brainwashing and the public."
"I approach the lawyers and find overwhelming support for my proposals," Friedmann said. "My feeling is that the situation in the courts is very bad and that there is a need for sweeping reforms. I do not know if the talkbacks on the internet websites reflect anything, but I have 90 percent or more support there."
'High Court Worse Than UN Security Council'
'There is a brainwashing process here that is highly unsuccessful.'
The Justice Minister stood behind his earlier statements, in which he said that Israel was in a better position defending itself before international bodies than in the Supreme Court.
"What I said was true," he said. "One can even compare the Supreme Court to the [United Nations] Security Council, the only UN body that has operative authority. The High Court issues decrees. It commands the government what to do and not to do. The Security Council does not give us commands. The High Court gives commands every day. One day it outlaws the "neighbor procedure," another day it decides what the [security] fence's route will be. Do this, do that."
'Soldiers and Sderot Residents Have Human Rights Too'
"We must remember that IDF soldiers and Sderot residents have human rights too," ' Friedmann said. "If the alternative to cutting down the supply of fuel is sending soldiers into Gaza, we must remember that the soldiers who will be killed also have human rights."
"No one knows if [cutting off electricity] will reduce terror or not," he said, "no one is sure.
'The High Court gives commands every day... Do this, do that.'
But it is best to try it before using less humane means… There is a war of attrition there. The other side is worn out too. Anyone who thinks they are not having a hard time is wrong."
Hints Kahan Committee was Wrong to Oust Sharon
Friedmann said that if the Kahan Committee, which investigated the first Lebanon War in 1982, had intended to oust Ariel Sharon from the government of Menachem Begin, it was wrong.
Friedmann was asked if he thought the Winograd Committee – which investigated the Second Lebanon War – was wrong to refrain making personal recommendations regarding the prime minister, ministers and IDF officers. The Justice Minister said: "The expectations from committees of investigation that they decide who will be sacked and who will remain in office are unreasonable… It is unacceptable that a committee will take away a political position from somebody. It can, at most, determine that he is unfit for administrative office."
Friedmann was then asked if he was not retroactively saying that the Kahan Committee's decision to oust Sharon from the position of Defense Minister was wrong. He answered: "The nature of the Kahan Committee's decision regarding Sharon is not clear to me, to this day. If they meant to depose him, they made a mistake."
The interviewers noted that the key figures in the Kahan Committee were Aharon Barak (who later became Supreme Court President), current Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and Edna Arbel (now a Supreme Court judge and an ally of Beinisch's).