Bezalel Smotrich of the Union of Right-Wing Parties (URWP) drew criticism from some for a speech he gave at a Jerusalem Day event on Sunday night at Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem in which he set his sights on the Justice Ministry.
“We want the justice portfolio because we want to restore the Torah justice system,” Smotrich said. The post is currently vacant after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired Ayelet Shaked earlier in the day. Smotrich stated that he would like to be appointed interim justice minister until the new government is formed after the upcoming elections on September 17.
Smotrich followed up his statement in an interview on Monday on Kan radio. “The Jewish people is a special people that needs to live according to the Torah,” he said in the interview.”
“When we talk about Torah laws there are many things. I think the Torah’s monetary laws are much better [than our current laws],” Smotrich said. “We need to grant the rabbinical courts a higher status.”
“The State of Israel and the state of the Jewish people will return to be governed as it was governed in the days of King David and King Solomon by Torah law, obviously in accordance with our days, and our challenges and economy, and how society lives in 2019,” Smotrich said.
The interviewer asked whether Smotrich was calling for a “Halacha (Torah law) state.”
“You throw a scary expression into the air. Torah laws are far superior to the ‘halacha state’ founded here by Aharon Barak,” Smotrich said. “Why is a state of law in which the person who determines the laws is Aharon Barak, and a small group of people who were not elected, ok?”
Barak was President of the Supreme Court of Israel from 1995 to 2006. Prior to that, he served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel (1978–95), as the Attorney General of Israel (1975–78). He was seen as an anti-religious influence in the courts by religious critics.
“Why is a ‘halacha state’ in which Aharon Barak sets the rules okay?” Smotrich said. “Of course, in the long run, I want the State of Israel to conduct itself according to Torah laws. That will happen when the nation wants it, and I am confident that it will want it when it sees how Torah law is just and humane.”