President Shimon Peres warned Monday against enacting legislation that might undermine the state's court system.
"Compromising the sovereignty of the court or casting doubt on its worth might cause historic and political damage to the State of Israel,"
Speaking at a swear-in ceremony held for 21 judges, the president responded to a bill
that calls to restructure the Judicial Selection Committee – a legislation that was passed by the Knesset in second and third readings on Monday. The bill proposes to allow the Bar Association to elect just one representative to the commission, instead of two.
Peres, Beinish and Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman on Monday (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Chief Justice Dorit Beinish expressed hope in the ceremony that the commission's make up will remain as it is.
"This balance has been maintained since the Judicial Selection Committee was created," she said. "Its work has yielded professional, independent judges who achieved great things."
Another disputed proposal, the Grunis bill,
which aims to shorten the term served by the Supreme Court president, is to be put up for a Knesset vote on Monday.
Peres added that judges should not operate in fear of the government or under the influence of political parties.
"The respect for Israel comes in part from the global sense that the state is democratic and is ruled by justice," he said.
The president chided the coalition Knesset members: "Legislation for the sake of empowering the government instead of defining justice, even when done by a democratically-elected body, might unbalance the democracy."
During the ceremony, Peres also raised the hot-button issue of the exclusion of women
from the public sphere.
"God has authorized no one to sit men in the front and women in the back," he said, referring to sex segrated bus lines operating in haredi neighborhoods. "These hostilities are perpetrated by a minority group that must be stopped."
He added that the ultra-Orthodox sector should not be slandered by the acts of the extremist group.