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Supreme Court Justice Menachem Mazuz announces retirement 4 years early

Former attorney general known for prosecuting Olmert says he will step down from bench for ‘personal reasons,’ thanks court for opportunity ‘to defend democratic values’

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

Supreme Court Justice Menachem Mazuz, one of the 15 judges on Israel’s highest court, announced Monday night that he intends to step down from the bench early next year, four years before the scheduled end of his tenure.

According to a statement from the Justice Ministry, Mazuz agreed with Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn to end his work on April 30, 2021.

The age of retirement at the Supreme Court is 70, and the 65-year-old Mazuz would have been expected to serve until 2025.

His exit from the court will come at the same time as the retirement of Deputy Chief Justice Hanan Melcer.

Mazuz, commonly known by his nickname Meni, said in a statement that he had made the decision “for personal reasons,” and did not elaborate.

“After six and a half years in the Supreme Court and the 40 years I have spent in the public service, I made a personal decision to end my tenure as a Supreme Court justice,” he said.

Deputy Supreme Court President Elyakim Rubinstein (center), and Justice Zvi Zilbertal (left) and Menachem Mazuz hear a case at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on October 26, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

He thanked court justices “for the opportunity to serve alongside them and contribute to advancing the rule of law in Israel and to defend democratic values.”

In 2018, Mazuz sparked controversy when a recording of him was broadcast in which he appeared to blast Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, decrying a “lack of leadership” amid criminal investigations involving the premier and his associates.

Mazuz did not directly name Netanyahu in the recording, which came from a closed-door lecture at the Hebrew University’s law school in Jerusalem. But he slammed the behavior of the country’s political leadership, calling it “worrisome.”

“It looks like the main contributing factor, at least in public discourse, is the phenomenon of lack of personal example in some of the political leaders’ behavior,” he told recent graduates in prepared remarks.

Mazuz’s comments came as Netanyahu was set to be questioned in the Bezeq corruption probe, in which he has since been charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Former attorney general Menachem Mazuz (left) and his successor Yehuda Weinstein. (Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

Before being named to the bench in 2014, Mazuz served as attorney general from 2004-2010.

He is best remembered for indicting former prime minister Ehud Olmert on graft charges when he was attorney general. He also allowed former president Moshe Katsav to be indicted for sex offenses and former finance minister Avraham Hirschson for corruption. He also decided not to indict former prime minister Ariel Sharon in a corruption case that was dubbed the Greek island affair.

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