Israel: Supreme Court chief says politicians seeking to ‘destroy’ justice system

Esther Hayut - President of the Israeli Supreme Court (AFP)

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  May 27, 2022 

The justice system in Israel is in danger from attacks by politicians, the country’s top court chief warned on Monday. 

Supreme Court President Justice Esther Hayut said political discourse surrounding the court system was deteriorating and warned that attacks on the justice system were “dangerous,” The Times of Israel reported. 

“Regrettably, civil dialogue and personal responsibility have given way to confrontational discourse that has bred attacks on the judiciary and its judges, and strident calls to harm them and curtail their powers,” Hayut said in a speech at the Israel Bar Association conference in Eilat.

Hayut’s comments came after Issawi Frej, minister of regional cooperation, slammed Jerusalem’s lower court for seeming to allow Jewish prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque, in contravention of delicate decades-old arrangements.  

On Sunday, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court overturned a police restraining order against three Israeli far-right activists for praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque in violation of the longstanding understanding between Israel and Jordan, which administers the affairs of the mosque.

The ruling was overturned by an Israeli appeals court on Wednesday.  

In his criticism of the initial ruling, Frej told the Kan public broadcaster that it “bordered on stupidity,” and added that it was “not a judicial decision, but political”.

Hayut said that while criticism of the court was welcome, discourse should remain “civil and respectful”.

“One can talk about the court’s errors, and about the need to file an appeal or request another hearing,” Hayut said.

“But to my dismay, public discourse today… is deteriorating and going to places that we have not seen before…  and these are extremely dangerous places.”

She added that such discourse stemmed from politicians’ “dreams to destroy” the Supreme Court.