Monday, June 11, 2007

Israel's Supreme Court Gets Help From...Britain

Hands Off! Says David Pannick, a practising barrister at Blackstone Chambers in Temple and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.


The Government of Israel is considering an indecent assault on its Supreme Court

The relationship between the Government and the judiciary is tense. The new Minister of Justice is refusing to protect the interests of judges. The independence of the courts is under threat...These are judges who take seriously the verse from Psalms that is one of the inspirations for the design of the Supreme Court building: “Truth will spring up from the earth and justice will be reflected from the heavens.” The judges do not always get it right – they are human beings – but even fierce critics of the state of Israel have to recognise that its courts take seriously the need to protect the rule of law.

...Tension between judges and politicians is a feature of all free societies. Indeed, if politicians are not regularly irritated by judicial decisions, the courts are not doing their job properly. But three aspects of the difficulties are very striking. First, Professor Friedmann is the first Israeli Justice Minister who has seen it as his role to lead an attack on the judiciary, rather than calm down his ministerial colleagues and explain to them the virtues of judicial independence as the protection they and their supporters will enjoy when they are out of office.

Secondly, experienced observers are concerned that judicial independence is being threatened...Thirdly, those of us on the delegation (judges, practising lawyers and academics) found it extraordinary that Israel should even be thinking about clipping the wings of the Supreme Court at a time when the rest of the developed world is recognising the need to strengthen judicial independence as fundamental to a free society.

...Professor Friedmann should stop his indecent assault on the Supreme Court of Israel.

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