Liberal justice is named president of Israeli court

Barak, who was sworn in Sunday, succeeds outgoing Chief Justice Meir Shamgar, who retired at the mandatory age of 70 after serving 12 years in the post.

Justice Shlomo Levine was appointed deputy president of the court, the position Barak held for the past two years.

Born in Lithuania, Barak immigrated to Israel with his parents in 1947.

He completed his law degree at The Hebrew University in 1958 and later continued his studies at Harvard University.

He served as legal adviser during the negotiations at Camp David leading up to the signing of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.

Barak's reputation as a scrupulous public figure developed during his tenure as attorney general from 1975 to 1978.

It was during this period that Barak decided to press charges against Leah Rabin, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's wife, after it was revealed that she had a bank account in the United States, in violation of Israeli law.

The incident played a large part in Yitzhak Rabin's decision not to run for the premiership in 1977.

His liberal stances have often led to confrontations with Israel's Orthodox establishment.

Barak was part of a judicial panel that ruled that Israel's national airline, El Al, must grant the same benefits to the partner of a homosexual employee as a that of a heterosexual one.

He also sat on a panel that overruled a government ban on importing non-kosher meat, terming it a violation of an importer's right to earn a living.

Barak also joined with a recent ruling that Reform and Conservative Jews should be allowed to sit on local governmental boards that oversee religious affairs.