Israel's Top Court Cannot Be Threatened or Intimidated, Outgoing Chief Justice Says

A defiant Miriam Naor said decisions are made according to the law, not politics, amid growing political anger at top court

Supreme Court President Miriam Naor is retiring on Thursday.
Oren Ben Hakoon

Outgoing Supreme Court President Miriam Naor was defiant in the face of the most recent round of attacks by politicians on the Supreme Court: “The [Supreme] Court was strong, it is still strong and will remain strong. The court cannot be threatened and cannot be intimidated.”

“A lot of things have been said against us, like they will [bulldoze] the Supreme Court and other things that are beyond just unproductive, but they have not affected us,” said Naor in an interview with the Israel Bar Association magazine. 

As for the criticism of the High Court of Justice’s alleged judicial activism, Naor said the judicial branch respects the legislative and executive branches. “We are not arm wrestling and as opposed to how they sometimes try to portray us, we make decisions according to the law.”

Israel's Supreme Court has been a prime target of the right-wing government and tarring it as a left-leaning institution has been a key part of its agenda.

Government officials and coalition members criticize it for having what they say is a liberal bias. There have even been attempts to pass laws that would curb the court's power. Its defenders, meanwhile, see attacks on the court as an attempt to erode Israel's democratic principles and commend it for being what they say is a bulwark in upholding the rule of law and the principles of equality and human rights. 

Naor, who is retiring, will have her last day in court Thursday when she is scheduled to read her final court decision. It's a ruling on the legality of opening grocery stores on the Jewish Sabbath in Tel Aviv.

Justice Esther Hayut will then immediately succeed her as the 12th president of the Supreme Court when she will be sworn in by President Reuven Rivlin at a ceremony held at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.