Chief Justice Blasts Justice Minister Bid to Curb Judge Terms

Bill would limit to a maximum of 7 years the terms of court presidents and their deputies.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Dorit Beinish Monday strongly denounced as "superfluous" a bill, initiated by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, which would limit the terms of presiding judges and their deputies.

There are currently no limits on the terms of the Supreme Court's chief justice and deputy chief justice. Presidents of district and magistrates courts are limited to four-yeas terms, which may be extended indefinitely.

The bill, which would apply across the range of Israeli courts, would limit to a maximum of seven years the terms of court presidents and their deputies, who serve as the senior judges in multi-judge panels.

In addition, a judge who is slated to retire within three years would be ineligible to be named president of a court.

In a position paper sent to the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, Beinish wrote "I find it difficult to understand the purpose of the proposed law, and its contribution to the functioning of the courts.

"In my view, the bill is superfluous," she wrote.

On Sunday, Friedmann termed the bill "one of the initiatives to strengthen the justice system and to establish principles to ensure the independence of [court] presidents during their terms.

In her letter, Beinish argued that debate over terms for the Supreme Court chief justice should be kept separate from discussions on term-limits for lower courts. "The issue of the terms of the president of the Supreme Court has constitutional significance, requiring debate of a more profound nature."