Haaretz senior legal commentator, Ze'ev Segal
Haaretz senior legal commentator, Ze'ev Segal
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Prof. Ze'ev Segal, Haaretz's longtime legal analyst, died of complications from an illness last night at Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital. He was just shy of his 64th birthday.

Segal, a law professor at Tel Aviv University, has been one of Israel's most prominent jurists for several decades, someone who influenced the general public and affected the course of legal debates in his fields of expertise, which included constitutional and administrative law, ethics, media law and freedom of expression.

He is survived by his wife Lily and a son, Hadar.

Born in pre-state Israel in January 1947, he obtained a bachelor's degree in law and then began working as an aide to Shimon Peres, who at the time was communications and transportation minister. In 1982, he received his doctorate in law from Tel Aviv University, then stayed on as a member of the faculty, in both the law and public policy departments.

In 2001, Segal helped draft the Kinneret Covenant, an attempt by intellectuals, politicians and public figures from across the political and religious spectrum to agree on common principles that unite all parts of Israeli society.

In 1999, Segal and Prof. Hadara Bar-Mor founded the Forum of Law and Society, which held meetings on various legal and social issues on the public agenda. He led the forum for many years.

He also published numerous academic articles and books. Among his best-known books were "Freedom of the Press - Between Myth and Reality," "Judicial Activism and Passivism," and a book of interviews that he and Prof. Ariel Bendor conducted with former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak.

Bendor, of Bar-Ilan University, said that Segal's doctoral dissertation on the doctrine of standing, which he later expanded into a book, had great influence on the High Court of Justice's decision in the 1980s to open its doors to public petitioners, meaning individuals or organizations with no direct, personal interest in the outcome of a case. Previously, the rule had been that only someone with a direct, personal interest in the case had standing to petition the court.

Segal's "book on the doctrine of standing was always cited [in court rulings] and influenced the court's view of this doctrine," Barak told Haaretz.

Bendor and Barak both noted Segal's belief in the importance of giving the Supreme Court broad powers of judicial review, and discussed the role he played in promoting the public's right to obtain information, via a book he wrote on the Freedom of Information Act.

"Ze'ev was also the first person in the country to right about proportionality in law," Barak added, referring to the doctrine that the harm caused by a law must not be disproportionately greater than the good it seeks to achieve.

In his addition to his legal scholarship, Barak said, Segal did important work as a columnist in defending human rights and the court's status. His death "leaves an enormous hole," Barak said.

Segal continued writing for Haaretz even from his hospital bed, saying, "It gives me strength to live."

His final academic study, some of whose findings were published in Haaretz last month, dealt with the media's impact on the public's view of criminal cases, including the sex crimes trial of former President Moshe Katsav.