Former Chief Justice Barak Regrets House Demolitions

Tomer Zarchin
Tomer Zarchin
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Tomer Zarchin
Tomer Zarchin

House demolitions by Israel are unworthy and of no use, former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak said in an interview in a soon-to-be-published book about him. In the book, "The Hat Maker: Discussions with Justice Aharon Barak" by Haaretz legal commentator Prof. Ze'ev Segal and Prof. Ariel Bendor, Barak said: "It brings no benefit. But as a judge I felt I had no discretion on this subject."

"You sleep there and it is your place of departure for perpetrating the terrorist act. In that situation, an attack on the house is like confiscating the car that you drove to commit the offense. I see no problem with that - provided, of course, that it is your house and not someone else's ... No one understands why the house of a terrorist's father is demolished. If the house belongs to the terrorist's father, it must not be demolished," Barak, Supreme Court president from 1995 to 2006, says in the book, excerpts of which will be published in Thursday's Haaretz Magazine.

Barak says he also changed his mind on administrative arrest as a bargaining chip in talks on prisoner swaps, when the individual arrested is not a security risk. "After the first judgment was handed down, even before an additional hearing was requested, I thought a great deal about the subject," Barak relates. "The more I thought about it, the more I reached the conclusion that I was simply mistaken," he told the authors.

Barak said he is particularly perturbed by the denial of the right of certain individuals to marry and start a family, as expressed in Israeli law. "The situation that exists today in Israel is that the state is violating flagrantly and very powerfully one of the basic rights that accrues to a person in a freedom-loving democracy, namely the right to marry," Barak told Segal and Bendor.

A case that came before Barak when he was attorney general, and about which he speaks publicly in the book for the first time, was the illegal foreign currency account held by Leah Rabin, when her husband Yitzhak Rabin was ambassador to the United States. Barak said he would not have hesitated to try Rabin himself, by that time serving his first term as prime minister (1974-1977), if the latter had not resigned.

"He did not forgive me, but he treated me correctly. I have no complaints against him. The person who really did not forgive [me] was his wife, Leah ... When Rabin's casket lay at the Knesset, after his assassination in November 1995, I passed by it as the president of the Supreme Court. I extended my hand to her but she refused to shake it. A few years later, before she died, when she was on her deathbed, she phoned me. I don't remember her exact words, but to my ears, she sounded reconciled."



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