• Black Twitter Icon
  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon
  • Black LinkedIn Icon

Copyright © 2019 The American Israel Public Affairs Committee

Israel Selects Esther Hayut to Head Supreme Court

Israeli Supreme Court Justice Esther Hayut (Times of Israel)

On Oct. 26, Israeli Justice Esther Hayut will become the 12th president of Israel’s Supreme Court, the third woman to hold this position.

After almost 15 years on Israel’s Supreme Court, Hayut was elected unanimously by Israel’s Judicial Appointments Committee in September. Her election keeps the tradition of selecting the longest-serving judge to lead the court. The committee also selected Justice Hanan Melcer as the next deputy president.

On Sept. 5, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed incoming Chief Justice Hayut and thanked outgoing Chief Justice Miriam Naor. He also praised the Israeli justice system as “one of the most esteemed in the world…[it] does much to strengthen Israel's international standing as a law-abiding democracy.”

Israeli politicians from across the spectrum extended their congratulations to Hayut, including President Reuven Rivlin, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Chief Justice Naor.

“I've known Hayut as an attorney from her numerous appearances in my courtroom at the magistrate's and district court. Even then, she stood out for her professionalism and meticulous work. Thanks to her talents, she advanced up the judicial ranks and was appointed as a Supreme Court justice after only 13 years, first as an acting justice and later as a permanent appointment,” said Naor. “Judge Hayut heads panels with wisdom and professionalism. Her verdicts are masterpieces, with some of them setting important and influential judicial legislation.”

Born in 1953, Hayut is the daughter of Holocaust survivors and was raised in an impoverished neighborhood in Herzliya, Israel. Her parents divorced when she was young and her mother was left to raise the family on her own. According to a friend of Hayut, her modest upbringing ingrained a particular sensitivity to the plight of the less fortunate.

At the age of 18, Hayut joined the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as part of the Central Command’s military band, touring the country to perform music.

Following her IDF service, she graduated from the Tel Aviv University law school and became an attorney. She was appointed as a judge in 1990 and was promoted to the Supreme Court in 2003. Hayut is known for her love of poetry and her use of Israeli poets in defending the court’s decisions.

Hayut will begin her six-year term in October when the body’s current president turns 70—the required retirement age for judges in Israel.

Tags: Near-East-Report Near East Report