Israeli army’s top lawyer warns against moves harming courts independence. Image Source: IANS News
Jerusalem, Sep 5 : Israel Defense Forces’ top lawyer has warned against moves that will harm the independence of Israeli courts, saying it will put Israeli officers in danger of being prosecuted abroad by international tribunals.
The remarks, widely perceived as criticism against the government’s controversial plan to reshape the country’s judicial system, were made by Military Advocate General Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi during a speech at a conference of Israel’s Bar Association in Tel Aviv on Monday.
In her speech, Tomer-Yerushalmi cautioned that without the independence of the courts, particularly the Supreme Court, Israel could lose a key defence in international legal matters, potentially endangering officers in international legal forums.
“IDF’s (Israel Defense Forces) international legitimacy efforts are greatly benefited by the aura, the protection, with which the justice system provides it, particularly, the Supreme Court’s professional and independent international status,” she said.
“Measures that may harm, or be perceived as harmful to, the independence, professionalism and effectiveness of the legal system, may crack the aura that the judicial system provides to the military and harm the interests of Israel,” she added.
Tomer-Yerushalm said that her office and senior IDF officers have presented these warnings to the government.
The Palestinians and some legal experts have appealed to hold senior Israeli officers accountable at international tribunals over actions involving the conflict with the Palestinians and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The military has been confronted with thousands of announcements by reservists, including combat pilots and senior commanders, that they are halting their service due to the judicial overhaul plan.
The plan aims to diminish certain authorities of the Supreme Court, transferring them to the ruling coalition. Opponents argue that it undermines the rule of law, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government asserts that it is necessary to rein in the “activism” of the Supreme Court.
The plan has thrown the country into turmoil, with millions of Israelis, according to police estimates, having taken part in weekly demonstrations across the country against the overhaul plan.