Supreme Court Swears in Two New Justices

Prof. Daphne Barak-Erez, former dean of Tel Aviv University Law School, and Tel Aviv District Court Judge Uri Shoham sworn in.

Two new Supreme Court justices were sworn in Thursday morning: Prof. Daphne Barak-Erez, former dean of Tel Aviv University Law School, and Tel Aviv District Court Judge Uri Shoham.

The swearing in of Barak-Erez and Shoham filled out the full complement of justices, following the retirement this week of Eliezer Rivlin, and that of former Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch in February. Justice Miriam Naor will be sworn in as the court's vice president, to replace Rivlin, who held the post.

The Judicial Appointments Committee selected the two in January, along with Noam Sohlberg and Zvi Zylbertal, following months of a widely-reported dispute over the matter. Sohlberg and Zylbertal joined the bench in February, replacing retiring justices Ayala Procaccia and Edmond Levy.

The selection of Barak-Erez comes in the wake of years of debate in the committee over the appointment of a justice from the ranks of academia.

During Aharon Barak's tenure as court president he balked at then-Justice Minister Tzipi Livni's desire to appoint Prof. Ruth Gavison. During Beinisch's term, then-Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann wanted to appoint Prof. Nili Cohen to the bench.

Youngest justice

Barak-Erez, 47, who will be the youngest Supreme Court justice, is considered an expert in public law and is well known outside the academic world. She has written 14 books and published more than 90 articles, focusing on issues related to human and civil rights.

Shoham was born in Iraq in 1948 and joined the list of candidates for the Supreme Court bench only after public criticism highlighted the lack of justices and candidates of Mizrahi origin.

Shoham, who also served as the Israel Defense Forces military advocate general, focused during his career on the bench on criminal cases and tended to favor the prosecution.

Two and a half years ago Haaretz reported that Shoham had received more threats than any other judge in Israel, after he was threatened by the Shurfi crime family of Jaffa, some of whose members he sent to prison for long terms. Shoham was assigned a special guard detail following the threats.

During the swearing-in ceremony, scheduled to take place in the Supreme Court building in Jerusalem, other judges will also take up the gavel in lower courts.