The selection of four new Supreme Court justices - Prof. Daphne Barak-Erez and judges Uri Shoham, Noam Sohlberg and Zvi Zylbertal - is good news for the legal system and, to borrow a turn of phrase from coalition chairman MK Zeev Elkin, a victory for good sense.
About two months ago concerns were raised in this space about appointing Sohlberg to the court because he "favors bolstering the state's power more than he values human and civil rights" (and not because of any political leaning; he has never been accused of that ). His position is worrying, "especially at a time when the Knesset is enacting a plethora of antidemocratic laws."
If additional proof is needed of the threats to Israeli democracy and the need to "reinforce the court with justices of a liberal worldview," we need only read the recent interview with West Bank settler leader Benny Katzover in which he says, "Israeli democracy has finished its historical role; it must disintegrate and give way to Judaism."
We are cheered by the knowledge that Knesset members such as Elkin, David Rotem and Uri Ariel, who frequently attack the Supreme Court, welcomed the latest appointments. But now they must explain their idiotic attempt - led by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman and aided by Israel Bar Association president Doron Barzilay, who did not hesitate to betray his fellow lawyers - to pass an arbitrary law, aimed at specific individuals and meant to be applied retroactively, because they were dissatisfied with the results of the last election of the Bar Association's national council. If the outcome of the current selection procedure was satisfactory, then the arguments for changing it are groundless.
The agreement reached over the four new justices was reached despite Neeman's deceptive and possibly unconstitutional actions, not because of them. The same result could have been achieved without humiliating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with last week's legislative farce in the Knesset over the proposed amendment to the Israel Bar Association Law.
As Barak-Erez recently noted, the Supreme Court is one of Israeli society's centers of strength. We must congratulate Barak-Erez, Shoham, Sohlberg and Zylbertal and wish them success, and for them to protect and develop Israel's fundamental democratic values.
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