Miriam Ben-Porat, the former Supreme Court justice who went on to serve as Israel's iconic State Comptroller in the 1990s, died at the age of 94 on Thursday morning. Ben-Porat was the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court, and also the first female state comptroller.
Ben-Porat was born April 26, 1918, in Vitebsk, Russia, and grew up in Kovno, Lithuania. She immigrated to Israel at age 18, and was admitted to the bar in 1945. In 1948, Ben-Porat began working at the Justice Ministry, and was appointed deputy state's attorney. In 1958, she was appointed a judge in the Jerusalem District Court, and in 1975 became its president.
In 1976, Ben-Porat received a temporary appointment to the Supreme Court, which was made permanent a year later. She served as deputy president of the Supreme Court, from 1983 to 1988, when she retired from the court. Subsequently, Ben-Porat was appointed State Comptroller, and continued to serve in the position for ten years, until 1998.
Miriam Ben-Porat was seen as a spearhead in the struggle against public corruption. Among other things, she forced political parties to publish the names of their doners, and criticized the IDF for distributing ineffective gas masks. Among the more notable comptroller reports she issued was the 1992 report, which addressed political appointments, allocation of state funds to public institutions, and corrupt governmental conduct. In 1991, she was awarded the Israel Prize in recognition of her lifetime achievements.
In recent years, Ben-Porat continued to attend legal events. Among the clerks who trained under her over the years was Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the following statement after learning of Ben-Porat's death: "Justice Ben-Porat was a pioneer, a highly esteemed Supreme Court justice, a state comptroller who sanctified the values of integrity and transparency, as well as, an Israel Prize laureate. Through her humility, her clinging to principles, and her devotion to the state, she served as an example and role model for equal opportunity and the supremacy of the rule of law in the State of Israel."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressed his condolences over the death of Justice Ben-Porat. Barak said, "Miriam Ben-Porat was a highly esteemed justice and an important state comptroller. She filled all of her positions while upholding the values of supremacy of the law, and always remained steadfast to her principles."
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