(January 31, 2019 / Israel Hayom) Much of the Israeli public believes that the legal system is biased, shows a poll commissioned by the Movement for Governability and Democracy, an organization that advocates for a strong separation of powers and against judicial intervention.
According to the poll, 61 percent of Israelis think that Chief Justice Esther Hayut holds a worldview that identifies with the “center-left leaning left.” Nearly three-quarters of respondents (72 percent) think that Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber holds leftist views, and 55 percent think that State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan holds leftist views.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit was seen as “right-wing leaning right” by 65 percent of respondents. Opinions were divided when it came to State Comptroller Yosef Shapira, with 37 percent characterizing him a right-wing, 36 percent characterizing him as a centrist, and 27 percent calling him left-wing.
When asked about whether these officials’ political views influenced their work, 57 percent of respondents said that Hayut’s opinions did influence her work and 58 percent said Zilber’s opinions did. Nearly half, 49 percent, said that Nitzan was influenced by his political worldview. Only 34 percent said that Mendelblit was steered by his political opinions.
Director of the Movement for Governability and Democracy Yehuda Amrani said, “Most of the public thinks that the positions of senior officials in the justice system, according to which they operate, are far from their own worldviews. That is a regrettable situation, which indicates the deep crisis in the public’s faith in the legal system.”
A spokeswoman for the court system said in response to the poll’s findings: “We refer you to the words of the chief justice [Esther Hayut] at a conference of the Institute for National Security Studies, when she emphasized that ‘it is appropriate to leave the Israeli court system out of political games. Both in ordinary times and much more so during an election.’ ”
The State Comptroller’s Office said in response to the poll that “the State Comptroller’s Office … and the person who heads them operate in accordance with the law—fairly, thoroughly, without political bias, and he is not influenced by any polls. The State Comptroller’s report over the years speak for themselves.”
The Justice Ministry issued a statement that “people whose positions were examined in the poll are public servants who do not expose their political opinions and make decisions in cases based on the evidence and legal rules alone, regardless of their political positions. We regret this biased attempt to attack their professionalism, which is why the poll was commissioned.”