Israeli Supreme Court Justice’s Son Worked for Likud as Mother Heard Petition Against Party

Miriam Naor, who was on a panel of justices that heard a petition against Israel Hayom, says she did not know about the payment to her son Naftali Naor.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President of the Supreme Court Miriam Naor attend a Memorial Day ceremony at Mount Herzl military cemetery, Jerusalem, Israel, May 11, 2016.
Heidi Levine, Reuters

A son of Supreme Court President Justice Miriam Naor was on the Likud campaign payroll while his mother was hearing a petition against the party, according to documents obtained by Haaretz. Miriam Naor said in response that she did not know about the payment to her son Naftali Naor and that none of the cases that came before her involved a conflict of interest.

Documents detailing salaries paid by the Likud campaign in 2015, which were published in Haaretz yesterday, show that Naftali Naor, who was a Knesset candidate in the election but did not win a seat, received 19,500 shekels ($5,120) to head the party’s “Ethiopian campaign.” He was paid in two installments, in February and in March.

During that time, Miriam Naor was on a panel of justices that heard a petition by Shachar Ben Meir against the free daily Israel Hayom, arguing that it constituted political propaganda. Ben Meir, a lawyer, eventually withdrew the petition, which also named Likud.

During the hearing, justices Naor, Hanan Melcer and Isaac Amit criticized the petition. Amit said during the hearing, addressing Ben-Meir, “[you] want balance, there is no balance. This newspaper has an agenda. There is no balance.” Naor added: “There are very many newspapers with agendas.”

During the hearing Naor disclosed the fact that her other son, Michael Naor, had clerked for attorney Avigdor “Dori” Klagsbald, who represented Israel Hayom in the proceedings. But she did not mention that Naftali Naor was a Likud activist and was on the campaign payroll.

The criteria by which judges must recuse themselves are relatively strict. Justice Esther Hayut, who is expected to be the Supreme Court’s next president, reported in 2012 that due to her husband’s legal representation of an insurance company she would recuse herself from cases involving several different insurance companies.

The courts administration responded that Justice Miriam Naor “of course knew that her son had run in the Likud primary,” but that she did not know that Naftali Naor had been on the Likud payroll until Haaretz’s query on the matter. Naor said that following the query she asked her son about the matter and he told her he had been a volunteer and had merely been reimbursed for expenses.

“In none of the cases before the president during this time did any problem arise of a conflict of interest,” the statement said. The statement added that the political positions of her sons should not be ascribed to Miriam Naor.