In first speech, Shaked expresses hope to rein in court
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'I plan to work toward strengthening the Knesset's sovereignty'

In first speech, Shaked expresses hope to rein in court

New justice minister rejects attempt to cast her as 'force of darkness,' hopes for debate on balance between Knesset and judiciary without 'tyranny of thought'

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks at the annual Bar Association Conference in Eilat, May 18, 2015. (Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks at the annual Bar Association Conference in Eilat, May 18, 2015. (Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

In her first public speech since being named justice minister, Ayelet Shaked underscored her criticism of the Supreme Court and made clear that curtailing the power of the judiciary branch would be a top priority.

Speaking before the annual Israeli Bar Association Conference in Eilat on Monday, the Jewish Home MK said decisions relating to governance have been wrongly placed in the hands of the justice system, rather than the people and their elected representatives in the Knesset.

“It is no secret that I plan to work toward strengthening the Knesset’s sovereignty,” she said at the conference. “The power of the legislative and executive branches derives from the public.”

In her two years as a Knesset member, Shaked, who unlike many of her predecessors in the post is not a lawyer by training, has been an outspoken supporter of limiting the judicial branch’s power.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (L) and Education Minister Naftali Bennet arrive at the first cabinet meeting of the Israel's 34th government at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on May 15, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (L) and Education Minister Naftali Bennet arrive at the first cabinet meeting of the Israel’s 34th government at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on May 15, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Her appointment as justice minister has earned criticism by many within and outside Israel, who claim she poses a threat to democracy in Israel.

But during her speech, Shaked attacked what she deemed a biased discussion of the issues.

“Those opposed to the blurring of the lines between authorities – and I am among them — have been cast as ‘forces of darkness,'” while those who support expanding the power of the Supreme Court are considered ‘forces of light,’ she claimed.

“I reject these classifications.”

Shaked is likely to target two main issues for reform — the de facto veto power that Supreme Court justices hold over the appointment of judges, and the Knesset’s inability to overturn Supreme Court decisions.

She said that in coming days she will be meeting judicial system officials in an effort to broaden her understanding of the issues at hand, after which she will begin “drafting a formula that will balance the powers of the government branches.”

She added that she hopes a debate “without prejudice and tyranny of thought” will take place.

“The supreme court was, and remains, a national pride of human rights,” Shaked said. “I will work to preserve the court’s status, while prioritizing the rule of law.”

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