Supreme Court President Esther Hayut said in a Thursday missive to Israel’s judges that ongoing attacks on the justice system by politicians “should trouble all those who care about the independence of the judicial system.”
Hayut wrote that “we have been witnessing brazen attacks on judges in response to their rulings. These are personal attacks on the justices and have nothing to do with legitimate, professional criticism.”
The letter came after Likud MK David Amsalem, known for his brash style, attacked Supreme Court justice David Mintz on Wednesday for a ruling he issued on a petition Amsalem filed, suggesting he was drunk when he wrote it.
Amsalem, who filed a petition against Defense Minister Benny Gantz over an appointment to a state-owned company, called Mintz “deranged” and “mediocre” and said he should resign.
Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and many of his allies in Likud have attacked the justice system for years amid the corruption investigation against him and subsequent, ongoing trial.
Last week, recently retired Supreme Court justice Menachem Mazuz slammed the former premier, saying he had led efforts to suppress Israel’s judicial system.
“There was an ongoing attempt to crush the police, the [state] prosecution, the attorney general, the courts,” Mazuz told the Haaretz daily.
“The legal system is supposed to balance the power of the government, and as soon as it crashes — the whole structure collapses…. We were close, no doubt,” to a collapse of democracy, said Mazuz, who retired from the court in April.
“In the past, these attacks came from the margins. This time they came from the prime minister, with the highlight of course being his appearance as a defendant in court, with cabinet ministers standing behind him. It was a scary scene from a fictional movie,” he said.
Mazuz was referring to Netanyahu’s appearance outside the court for the start of his corruption trial in May 2020. Flanked by ministers and lawmakers from his Likud party, Netanyahu ripped into police and prosecutors as he became the first Israeli premier to stand trial on criminal charges while in office.