Rubinstein Decides Not to Investigate Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef Following Supreme Court Attack

"In light of the importance of the freedom of expression, and in view of the background against which the remarks were made, it would be improper, under the circumstances, to launch criminal proceedings".

Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein has decided not to launch criminal proceedings against Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, in respect of his recent comments concerning the Supreme Court. Yosef called the Supreme Court judges "evildoers", "empty-headed and reckless" and various other harsh epithets.

Rubinstein said he is persuaded that, in light of the importance of the freedom of expression, and in view of the background against which the remarks were made, it would be improper, under the circumstances, to launch criminal proceedings again Yosef. He said the decision was taken unanimously.

Rubinstein noted that this instance formed part of an offensive against the Supreme Court and the judiciary system in general, on the part of various concerns. This, he said, is saddening, since the Supreme Court "has, throughout fifty years of statehood, fortified the rule of law and the status of human rights".

According to Rubinstein, the matter was discussed by the State Attorney, the State Attorney's Office, legal advisors and the Police, and all had dissociated themselves from Yosef’s comments, but stated as their bottom line opinion, that any criminal proceeding at present would be out of place.

Rubinstein said this decision was not reached out of reasons relating to any misgivings as to the implications of a decision calling for investigation on the personal security of law enforcement personnel, even though public circumstances had been taken into consideration.

Rubinstein wrote, in his decision, that as far as he was concerned, the decision not to investigate at this juncture "was more difficult on the level of values than the reverse decision would have been, since the unjust and insulting remarks, and the language used against the court, aroused my resentment and still do so as I write - as a Jew, an Israeli and a jurist".

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel announced that it is considering possible legal proceedings against Rubinstein by reason of this decision. According to the Movement, such a decision represents a severe blow to the principle of equality before the law.

Published by Israel's Business Arena February 21, 1999

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