"I've had the great privilege of sitting next to the giants of the judicial system," Grunis said in a speech. "The turnover of justices in the Supreme Court casts heavy responsibility upon us, the incumbent judges. We must preserve the magnificent tradition of the court.
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"The State of Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, and it must preserve the Jewish values and protect the ways of democracy," he added.
"The judges are performing a divine service, they act out of a sense of great responsibility. We all deal with providing a special service, led by a sense of vocation."
Asher Grunis (Photo: Avi Peretz)
Grunis lamented the heavy case load faced by the justice system, and stressed that the judges' independence cannot be compromised.
During the ceremony, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to block any legislation that aims to compromise the independence of the courts system, and wished Grunis success in "kindling the flame of democracy."
"I know you have what it takes to lead Israel's justice system," Netanyahu told the judge. "On behalf of myself and the State of Israel, I wish you success… I am certain that under your leadership Israel's Supreme Court will continue serving as a beacon of freedom."
'Judges come and judges go'
Netanyahu also praised Beinisch for her service.
"For five and a half years you have proudly headed the State of Israel's judicial branch," he said. "It wasn't an easy period, during which the justice system came under attack more than once. These attacks were unsuccessful."
The outgoing chief justice spoke at the ceremony as well, lauding the merits of the Supreme Court.
"Judges come and judges go, but this establishment is stronger than its individual parts," Beinisch said.
Addressing Grunis, President Shimon Peres said: "You have been entrusted with the scepter of the Supreme Court presidency, and the full extent of the responsibility that comes with leading the State of Israel's justice system. I am sure that your personality, wisdom, great experience, principled convictions and proficiency in the law will help you contribute to entrenchment of the court's standing."
Peres also lauded Beinisch, stressing the fact that she was the first woman to serve as Supreme Court president, calling her "one of the most important and brave people to head the Israel's highest judicial establishment."
"Many fundamental and significant rulings are attributed to you, including ones regarding interrogee and defendants' rights," he said.
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