Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch called Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin on Friday to clarify that the criticism she voiced the previous day was not directed at "the Knesset as a whole, or as an institution."
Addressing an Israeli Association of Public Law conference at the Dead Sea on Thursday, Beinisch spoke out against what she called a delegitimization campaign against the Israeli justice system in general and the Supreme Court in particular, led by "MKs and even cabinet ministers who exploit their immunity and give the public false and misleading information amounting to incitement against the court, its judges and its rulings."
Rivlin responded immediately to her comments, saying, "President Beinisch exaggerated. The judicial and legislative branches are obligated to protect each other's honor."
During their talk on Friday, Beinisch told Rivlin her remarks referred only to a group of MKs and ministers whose recent statements against the Supreme Court "cross the boundary between criticism and incitement."
Several public figures weighed in on Beinisch's comments from Thursday, as well as related issues. Former Justice Dalia Dorner said the chief justice's "harsh" remarks reflected her "deeply held feelings" about recent events, while Michael Eitan, minister for the improvement of government services, yesterday lashed out against individuals close to Beinisch who said after her remarks that the recent draft laws are reminiscent of 1930s Germany. Eitan said it was "incorrect and unfair" to compare the bills to the anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws.
The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, meanwhile, yesterday wrote to the Ombudsman of the Israeli Judiciary, former Justice Eliezer Goldberg, claiming that Beinisch had violated ethical guidelines in her speech. In their letter, members of the forum said her remarks constituted "grave incitement against those who disagree with the ... adherents of judicial activism."
A colleague of Beinisch's, speaking yesterday at the same conference at the Dead Sea, came out against the practice of inferring the political views of judges from their rulings.
"A new trend has infiltrated our public lives, of categorizing judges and their verdicts as belonging to one camp or another," Justice Miriam Naor said. She added that this "branding" does not benefit the judges, even when it would seem to help them.
Naor declined to name names but she was presumably referring to Judge Noam Sohlberg, whose Supreme Court appointment has the backing of right-wing politicians. Her remarks may also have been aimed at Justice Asher Dan Grunis, who is expected to become the next president of the Supreme Court after Beinisch retires in February. He is being championed by the right due to his conservative views.
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