Israeli Supreme Court Justice Fires Back at 'Slandering' Politicians

Elyakim Rubinstein rejects rightists' denunciations of court for its delay of demolition of terrorists' homes.

Olivier Fitoussi

Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, vice president of the Supreme Court, has fired back at politicians from the ruling coalition who denounced the court for its delay of the demolition of Palestinian terrorists’ homes.

“I’m reading and hearing slander, plain and simple, about the Supreme Court,” Rubinstein said this week. “But there is absolutely no validity to accusations of delaying discussions of the demolition of terrorists’ homes and complaints of that sort.” Rubinstein added, “The frustrations of politicians and various writers, sometimes with astonishing ignorance and some not by mistake, should not be taken out on the court.”

At an event marking the 20th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, Rubinstein defended his colleague, Justice Uzi Fogelman, who froze the demolition of terrorists’ homes until the hearing of petitions. Rubinstein said that had Fogelman not delayed the demolition order, "We would be like Sodom and Gomorrah — destroying first and asking questions later."

Rubinstein also explained, “The court is part of the nation and the state, it’s not from the United Nations, but it fights for the character of the state as a state of law, human rights and human obligations. All you need in order to know that is ... basic decency." He added that the criticism doesn’t influence the court's work, which is guided by the law alone.

In the wake of the temporary order to freeze the demolitions of the homes of six terrorists, several coalition members harshly criticized Fogelman and the court in general. MK Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) claimed that Fogelman “has placed himself on the side of the enemy.” Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett said, “When people are being murdered in the streets, the Supreme Court can’t insist on procedures in order to delay the war against terror.”

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said in an interview that this was “a decision divorced from any reality,” and unrelated to human rights. Absorption Minister Zeev Elkin said, “The justices have to understand that we’re in a war against terror, and a democracy that doesn’t know how to defend itself won’t be able to win this war.”

Last week Haaretz reported on unusual criticism of the politicians by Supreme Court Justices Yoram Danziger and Salim Joubran. Danziger said the claim that the justices were helping the enemy was not only in bad taste, but also a case of pandering to the public mood, while Joubran added that the attacks were unworthy and unjustified during a difficult period for the Supreme Court.

After discussion of the petitions against the demolitions, Justice Hanan Melcer asked the state for a list with the dates on which the court had approved home demolitions and the dates when they were carried out. “They say that the courts are delaying the demolitions, so if the state is delaying we want to know why,” explained Melcer.

Yesterday the State Prosecutor submitted the list of court-approved demolitions since 2013. It revealed that five demolitions took place almost immediately, while four others took place only months later, and one not at all. Now that the state has submitted its response, the petitioners — the families of the terrorists and three neighbors — must respond by Thursday.