Israel enters critical week for judicial reform negotiations

The Knesset will on Wednesday select two of its representatives on the nine-member judicial appointments committee, which is vital to the survival of ongoing negotiations at the presidential residence over the government’s planned overhaul of Israel’s judicial system.

Nine Knesset members from the coalition and one from the opposition submitted their candidacies to serve on the committee by Wednesday night’s deadline: From the opposition, Yash Atid MK carin elhrerand from the coalition, Shas MK Uriel Busso, Otzma Yehudit MKs Yizhak Kroyzer and Limor Son-Harmelech, and Likud MKs Tally Gotliv, Eli Dalal, Nissim Vaturi, Moshe Saada, Moshe Pasal and Avichai Boaron.

The coalition traditionally allows the opposition to hold one of the Knesset’s two seats on the committee. Both Yesh Atid and National Unity have threatened in recent weeks that they will walk away from the negotiating table on judicial reforms if the coalition breaks with tradition and chooses to hold on to both seats.

The vote is anonymous, meaning that if there is more than one candidate from the coalition, the government has no way of ensuring that the opposition will receive a seat.

In the previous Knesset, the coalition led by MK Yair Lapid, the current opposition leader and chairman of Yesh Atid, and Naftali Bennett of Yamina, thus fielded only one candidate, Labor MK Efrat Reten, who was actually elected to serve on the committee. Was.

The Knesset building (illustrative), home of Israel’s legislature, in Jerusalem on November 14, 2022. (Credit: Mark Israel Salem / The Jerusalem Post)

The coalition agreement between Likud and Otzma Yehudit states that the latter will have a coalition position on the committee. Otzma Yehudit President, Minister of National Security MK Itamar Ben-Gvir announced last week that it would be the cruiser.

However, of the six Likud MKs who put forward their candidatures, at least one may pose a problem, gottlieveannounced that she would not withdraw her candidacy.

Protests around Elharr’s candidacy flared up last week after both National Unity and Labor agreed to drop their candidates to present a united front.

judicial appointments committee

judicial appointments committee Is responsible for appointing all of Israel’s judges, including the justices of the High Court.

The constitution of the committee is one of the most contentious issues in the government’s judicial reforms. As per the present law, the committee consists of three judges of the High Court, one of whom is the Chief Justice; two ministers, one of whom is the Minister of Justice; two Knesset members; and two representatives of the Israel Bar Association.

Justice Minister Yariv Levin and other supporters of judicial reforms argue that members of bar associations have an interest in favoring the judges before whom they appear in court. This gives the judges a de facto majority on the committee and the ability to choose whomever they see fit. Levin proposed amending the committee’s structure so that the committee should have a coalition majority rather than judges, so that the elected representatives of the people could become the appointees of the nation’s judges.

However, the opposition argued that giving any coalition absolute power over judicial appointments would make these appointments part of a political transaction, and thus create a system where judges are chosen because of their political affiliation and not because of political affiliation. that because of their skill or expertise. ,

Even if an opposition member takes a seat on the committee, Levin is not required by law to convene the committee, nor is it required to appoint judges by a certain deadline. Therefore, Levin may choose not to form the committee in the hope that the Coalition may still be able to change the composition of the committee. So Lapid demanded last week that not only should the opposition find a place in the committee, but the committee should also start its standard work within a reasonable time.