Judge Asher Grunis
Judge Asher Grunis Israel news photo: Flash 90

Judge Asher Grunis was named president of Israel's Supreme Court Friday. He will asume his new post at the end of February.

Grunis' appointment was approved by the 9-member Judges Selection Committee with a majority of seven votes. MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) abstained. Grunis, who also serves on the committee, also abstained.

Outgoing Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch and Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman informed Grunis of the appointment and offered their congratulations.

Grunis' appointment was made possible after the Knesset passed the "Grunis Law," which enables the committee to select a judge who is within three years of the mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court Judges – 70.

The incoming chief justice specializes in civil and commercial law, and is known to be a staunch proponent of civil liberties.

Grunis has a repuation as hardworking and a man of great personal integrity, who does not fraternize with politicians and avoids "judicial activism."

Judicial activism was a trademark of outgoing Chief Justice Dorit Benisch, who was frequently criticized for broad rulings that interfered with Knesset and government powers.

Indirectly referring to Benisch, Environmental Protection Minsiter Gilad Erdan praised him as "worthy" of his new role.

"I'm sure President Grunis will maintain the defense of civil rights and the prevention of injury against civilians, especially minorities, while leading a Supreme Court policy of self restraint out of a conception that not everything should be brought before the court and that there are things the public decides once every four years when it elects a government," Erdan said.

Asher Grunis was born in Tel Aviv in 1945. He graduated from the Hebrew University's School of Law in 1969, and has a Masters from the University of Virginia, and a PhD from Toronto's York University.

Grunis served as Dean of Law for the Tel Aviv University for over a decade. He served as a Beersheba District Court judge from 1988-1996, and as a Tel Aviv District Court judge from 1996-2002.

He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2003.