At a swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday for the two most recent appointments to the Supreme Court , outgoing Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch remarked on the controversy leading up to Judge Noam Sohlberg’s appointment to the bench, saying, “I regret any distress caused to Judge Sohlberg.”
Beinisch was responding to the criticism leveled against Sohlberg during his appointment process. Left-wing and Arab critics had opposed Sohlberg’s nomination because he lives in Judea and Samaria. Israeli Arab MK Ahmad Tibi (Ra’am Ta’al) had proposed bill that would forbid the appointment of a resident of Judea and Samaria to the Supreme Court.
“Noam and his family are residents of Gush Etzion,” Beinisch said at the swearing-in ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. “This is my opportunity to say that I am sorry about the great distress he endured simply because of this fact.”
Beinisch also denied allegations of favoritism toward Judge Zvi Zylbertal, who was also appointed to the Supreme Court on Tuesday. “They’re all my sons,” she said, adding that she wants to dispel rumors that she herself opposed Sohlberg’s nomination during the appointment process.
Zylbertal used his speech at the ceremony to bid farewell to Beinisch, who will be replaced next week by Judge Asher Grunis. “Beinisch is a courageous and enlightened leader who safely steered the judicial branch, which at times during her tenure seemed like a ship sailing through turbulent seas,” he said.
Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman also made comments during the ceremony, saying the new Supreme Court judges assume a tremendous responsibility. “Future cases that will land on the court’s doorstep will involve crucial decisions. I am certain that these judges will serve as role models for the citizens of Israel,” he said.
Sohlberg, 49, was born in Israel, and is a resident of the Alon Shvut, just outside of Jerusalem. Due to his youthful age, if the current seniority system for appointing Supreme Court presidents remains in place, he is not expected to assume the role before 2028.
Zylbertal, 59, was born in Israel and raised in Jerusalem. He was appointed to Jerusalem’s Magistrate’s Court in 1990, and promoted to the District Court in 2001.