Retired Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel passed away Monday at the age of 88.
A statement from the court administration said: "The President of the Supreme Court, Justice Esther Hayut, past and present presidents and justices of the Supreme Court, the Director of Courts and all the judges of Israel bow their heads and participate in the heavy mourning of the family."
Retired Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, Photo: Joshua Yosef
Turkel was born in 1935 in Tel Aviv, and studied law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he also received a master's degree. In 1967 he was appointed a judge in the Beer Sheva Magistrate's Court. Six years later he was promoted to the city's district court. In 1981, Turkel was appointed President of the Beer Sheva District Court, and at the same time served briefly on the Supreme Court. In 1995, he was appointed a Supreme Court justice, a position he held until his retirement ten years later.
As a judge, Turkel had positions that were often minority. Thus, for example, he ruled that Moshe Feiglin's sedition offenses, committed during the struggle against the Oslo Accords, were not offenses with which there was disgrace. At the end of the Barak government, he ruled, in a single opinion, that the government did not have the authority to conduct political negotiations.
Retired Judge Turkel, Photo: Dudi Vaknin
"The conduct of negotiations in the short period remaining until the elections exceeds the realm of reasonableness, and should be stopped until the elected prime minister and his cabinet ministers take office." Turkel, in a minority opinion, believed that the law permits holding civilians of an enemy state as bargaining chips for the purpose of releasing Israeli combatants, explaining: "The honor and freedom of our fighters are dear to me than those of enemy fighters. In my opinion, this consideration tips the scales towards the broad interpretation of the term 'reasons for state security.'"
Justice Turkel served 38 years in all judicial instances. After his retirement, he served in various positions in the public service. In June 2010 he was appointed by the Israeli government to head the committee of inquiry into the events of the flotilla to Gaza, a committee named after him, the Turkel Commission. In the committee's findings, Justice Turkel criticized the military and political echelons for not anticipating the violent reception of the flotilla participants. The committee members were divided on the question of whether the defense minister bears direct responsibility (similar to the chief of staff) for the failures that occurred in the operation.
, Judge Turkel. Photo: Joshua Yosef
Over the years, Turkel has published various articles on legal topics. He has also won various awards. Turkel, whose wife Miriam passed away in 2018, is survived by two daughters.
The date of Turkel's funeral has not yet been determined, and an announcement will be made later.
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