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Retiring Supreme Court justice: Judiciary, rule of law under assault from politicians

Israel’s political class is mounting a sustained and escalating assault on Israel’s judiciary and law enforcement bodies, Supreme Court Justice Menachem (Meni) Mazuz warns at a small gathering at the court marking his retirement.

“We’re in a period of confrontation and growing criticism and vitriol from the political system directed at the judiciary and the law enforcement system as a whole,” Mazuz says. The constant state of combat with the political echelon “makes it difficult for the court to fulfill its purpose and duty, challenging it on a daily basis.”

But, he adds, “this difficulty only highlights and further clarifies the vital importance of the court insisting on fulfilling its important constitutional-social role in defending the values of democracy and human rights.”

Mazuz, 65, a former attorney general and outspoken member of the court’s more liberal wing, announced his retirement in December for unspecified “personal reasons.” He leaves the bench several years early. The mandatory retirement age for Israeli judges is 70.

Until his comments today, his retirement has been a quiet one. He declined the traditional farewell ceremony for a judge retiring from Israel’s top court, instead opting for a small gathering with fellow justices.

Chief Justice Esther Hayut says at the ceremony, “We were very saddened by your decision to finish your term with us prematurely, but we respect your decision.” She praises his “uncompromising professionalism.”

Supreme Court Justice Meni Mazuz at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on March 22, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
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