Critical comments made by Religious Zionism MK Bezalel Smotrich just hours after the death of former Supreme Court chief justice Miriam Naor drew a sharp rebuke from political figures on Monday.
Naor, who served as a judge for 38 years and as a Supreme Court justice for 14, died Monday morning at 74. Her funeral is slated to be held on Tuesday at noon in Jerusalem.
In a radio interview shortly after her death, Smotrich said he found it difficult to eulogize the former Supreme Court justice.
“I will remember Miriam Naor as someone who insisted on demolishing homes in [the West Bank settlements and outposts of] Ofra and Amona and Netiv Ha’avot,” Smotrich told Radio Galey Yisrael.
He also criticized her decision to refuse to send a judicial representative to a state ceremony in 2017 marking 50 years of the settlement enterprise.
“In short, just another [Supreme Court] president in a long line of those… who destroyed a once glorious institution,” Smotrich added, saying: “It’s hard for me to be hypocritical.”
In response, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar slammed Smotrich’s comments as “inhuman.”
“I was amazed by MK Smotrich’s attack on the former [Supreme Court] president just a few hours after her death and even before she was buried,” Sa’ar said during a faction meeting of his New Hope party on Monday. “It is not Jewish and it is inhuman. I do not know a judge with whom I have agreed on all rulings. But that’s exactly the point. The state foundations in Israel must be preserved.”
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also joined the criticism of Smotrich.
“The choice by Smotrich to defame Supreme Court president Naor just minutes after her death is a new record of sordidness in Israeli political life,” said Lapid. “He and his party will not stop until every sign of statesmanship and coexistence in this country has been destroyed.”
Following the criticism, Smotrich said while he respects Naor’s memory and sends condolences to her family, he cannot ignore their sharp disagreements.
“You can respect and disagree,” he said in a statement. “You can be matter-of-fact and not blur positions. I will continue to adhere to this matter-of-fact way.”
Amy Spiro contributed to this report.