Supreme Court to hear appeal
Supreme Court to hear appeal

Early comments in the political sphere on the appointment of former Attorney General Menachem (“Menny”) Mazuz and Judge Anat Baron to serve as High Court judges lined up as expected, with MKs on the right criticizing the appointments, while others on the left praising them.

In the latter category is Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who said Sunday that the appointments were worthy ones. “They are both solid appointments who will help cement the values that the High Court represents in its role as a defender of Israeli democracy and the rights of the individual,” Livni said. “They are not only good judges, but good human beings, excellent jurists, experienced professionals, and they are both very modest. I am very proud of the choice and wish them success.”

Less enthusiastic about the appointments – or at least the methods used to choose the new judges – was coalition whip MK Yariv Levin (Likud). “Once again judges were chosen for the High Court in dark back rooms, without transparency or any opportunity for the public to know how and why they were chosen.”

In Israel, judges are chosen by a special committee made up of current and former judges, lawyers, and Knesset members. After months of deliberation – away from the eye of the public – the Committee for Selection of Judges picked Mazuz and Baron to replace Edna Arbel, who retired three months ago, and current Supreme Court President Asher Grunis, who will retire in January upon reaching age 70.

“The time has come to change these methods,” Levin said. “In the Israel of 2014, it would be worthy for judges to be chosen from a range of candidates that represent a range of the population. The justice system owes Israeli citizens a fair and proper opportunity to see the choices,” he added.

Mazuz was appointed attorney general in 2004, as Ariel Sharon's government was preparing the Gaza Disengagement. At the time, nationalists suspected that the appointment was conditional on Mazuz's cooperation with the legally problematic Disengagement, but no collusion could be proved.

He was also criticized by women's organizations for agreeing to a plea bargain with disgraced president Moshe Katzav, who had been accused of sexual offenses. Katzav, who inisisted upon his innocence, eventually rejected the bargain but was found guilty and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Baron was appointed to the Tel Aviv Magistrates' Court in 1991 and was promoted to the District Court 11 years later.