Former Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman Dies At 77


Yaakov Neeman, who served twice as Israel’s justice minister and once as finance minister, died today at age 77.

Neeman was born to a religious Zionist family in Tel Aviv. He was educated at the Midrashiat Noam high-school yeshiva and completed military service in the Golani Brigade. He went on to study law at Hebrew University of Yerushalayim. In 1965, he earned a LL.M from New York University, and in 1968, a LL.D.

In 1972, after returning to Israel, he opened a law firm with future president of Israel Chaim Herzog.

Ne’eman was appointed Director General of the Finance Ministry in 1979, serving until 1981. In June 1996 he was appointed Minister of Justice by Prime Minister Netanyahu, despite not being a member of the Knesset. Two months later he resigned from the cabinet, after Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair opened a criminal investigation into allegations that Ne’eman had tried to suborn a witness in the trial of MK Aryeh Deri. Ne’eman was cleared of the charges and returned to the cabinet in July 1997 as Minister of Finance until the end of the Netanyahu premiership at the 1999 elections.

On December 8, 2009, while serving as the Minister of Justice, Ne’eman was reported as saying that he believed that halacha should gradually be made binding law in Israel, with the ultimate goal of making Israel a halachic state. But he later denied this, emphasizing that “the Knesset is the legislator in Israel, and the interpretation of its laws is determined by the [civil] courts.” He said that he advocated the use of religious courts only in an auxiliary role, to “resolve financial disputes in accordance with the principles of Jewish law. The court system in Israel is backed up, and therefore, cases should be transferred to an alternative system.”

In March 2009, following Netanyahu’s return to power, Ne’eman was once again appointed Justice Minister.

He lived in the Talbiya section of Yerushalayim and is survived by his wife and six children.

{ Israel News}


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