Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

20 Tammuz 5761 - July 11, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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Rabbi Gafni: "High Court to Blame For Lack of Constitution"
by Eliezer Rauchberger

"The High Court is to blame that there is no constitution in Israel," said Rabbi Gafni. He spoke these words at a deliberation in which Knesset members argued with Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit who opposes the establishment of a constitutional court. Aharon Barak, the Chief Justice of the High Court, is the main opponent of the plan.

Replying in the Knesset to a proposal by MK Eliezer Cohen (Ichud Haleumi- Yisrael Beiteinu) regarding the necessity of setting-up a constitutional court, Minister of Justice Meir Sheetrit said that while he supports a constitution, he opposes establishment of a constitutional court. A debate erupted in the Knesset plenum between him, Rabbi Gafni and other MKs following his remarks.

MKs Rabbi Gafni, Eliezer Cohen, Rabbi Gamliel, Tzvi Hendel, Benny Alon, Nissim Zeev, and many other Knesset members support the idea of a constitutional court.

Sheetrit claimed, "There is no need for a constitutional court in order to interpret a constitution. We are a state with a High Court, and the High Court should interpret the constitution."

MK Rabbi Nissim Zeev: "That's the problem."

MK Rabbi Gafni: "The High Court is to blame for the lack of a constitution. But we know what it will say about us, because [its Chief Justice] expresses his opinion at lectures."

Minister Sheetrit: "I disagree with all of those attacks on the High Court and its Chief Justice."

Rabbi Gamliel: "You have no choice."

Shetreet: "No. I have a choice. I am not afraid to state my opinion."

Rabbi Gafni then read excerpts of remarks by one of the High Court justices, Michael Cheshin. Cheshin noted, "Even if the Knesset passes a law, the High Court could cancel any law passed by the Knesset." Rabbi Gafni also noted that Barak had also said, speaking just the day before a court case on the law about yeshiva students was due to be argued before him, "It is impossible to accept a law about the yeshiva students because of the principal of equality."

"I was part of the enactment of the Basic Laws in 1992. I did not let them include the word `equality' precisely because of the yeshiva students issue, as you know," Rabbi Gafni told the Justice Minister. "Now, Barak opposes the Knesset and opposes the legislative authority. There were deliberations here on the issue, and the word `equality' was not included, due to the yeshiva students issue. In contradicting the Knesset's opinion, he says the opposite."

Rabbi Gafni then called to the Justice Minister: "You are a decent Justice Minister, yet you stand at the podium and say, `Justice Barak will do what the Knesset says.' He laughs at you; he laughs at me. He laughs at everyone. No Justice Minister has ever been able to put him in his place. He's stronger than all of us."

In the wake of Rabbi Gafni's remarks, Minister Sheetrit took advantage of a clause in the Knesset rule book and grabbed the microphone to "protest" the attack on the Chief Justice. "It's out of place. It's unjust. There is no reason to discuss the personal nature of different people."

Rabbi Gafni: "Who's attacking? We have ideological differences of opinion."


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