The Knesset is expected to vote on two bills this week that would affect which
judges are chosen for the Supreme Court.
The first bill, known as the
“Bar Association Bill” or the “Sohlberg Bill,” is likely to be brought for its
first reading in the Knesset plenum on Monday afternoon, and the “Grunis Bill”
is expected to be brought to a vote this week, as well, in its second and third
readings.RELATED:C'tee fails to choose new Supreme Court judgesJudicial selection reforms pass initial votes
Speaking to high-school students in Be’er Tuviya on Sunday,
opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) said that, via these bills, “the
coalition is trying to appoint its own judges. This is a political attempt to
enforce their point of view.”
“Even when there is a legitimate discussion
on what the Supreme Court should look like, it must be done respectfully,
without harming its status,” Livni explained. “Otherwise, there will be
The “Bar Association Bill,” proposed by Israel Beiteinu faction
chairman Robert Ilatov, coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) and others, would
regulate who represents the Bar Association in the Judicial Selection Committee,
enforcing that one member of the opposition and one from the coalition are
appointed. This scenario takes place most times the committee meets, however,
there have been cases in which, due to political pressures or the influence of
Supreme Court presidents, two members of the same side – coalition or opposition
– represented the Bar Association.
If it becomes law, the measure is
expected to open up the doors for Jerusalem District Court Noam Sohlberg’s
appointment to the Supreme Court. Sohlberg has been criticized by the Left
because he lives in the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut. Opposition MKs have
accused Ilatov and Elkin of drafting a “personal bill” because they favor
The bill passed its preliminary reading last Monday, despite
the opposition’s attempt at a filibuster, and the same is expected to happen in
its first reading, which was prepared more quickly than usual last week.
Following complaints from Kadima, Labor, Meretz and Hadash MKs, Knesset legal
adviser Eyal Yinon investigated and ultimately approved the sped-up legislative
process, which is expected to continue this week.
The second judicial
bill, which is expected to appear on the Knesset’s agenda this week, is the
The bill, which passed in its first reading last week,
seeks to shorten the minimum tenure for Supreme Court presidents from three
years to two years. The bill received its nickname because it would ensure that
Supreme Court Justice Asher Dan Grunis, an opponent of judicial activism, would
replace current Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch when she retires in
February. At the time of Beinisch’s retirement, Grunis will be over the age of
67, and the mandatory retirement age for justices is 70.
however, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman said in a speech to the Knesset that he
finds it “very unfortunate that MKs have called this the ‘Grunis Bill.’ This
isn’t Grunis’ bill – you are mislabeling it.”
Neeman told the nearlyempty
plenum that in the past, there have been “great judges” that served as Supreme
Court presidents for less than two years, and that Grunis is a worthy judge that
deserves the appointment under the court’s current seniority system.
justice minister also criticized the opposition for running to the media, and
not the Knesset, to discuss such an important topic, and pointed out that less
than 10 MKs were present during his speech.
Opposition members have
spoken out against the bill, saying that it is “personal,” and that MK Ya’acov
Katz (National Union) proposed the legislation because Grunis’s judicial
philosophy, which is more conservative than Beinisch’s, is favorable to the
Ultimately, the Knesset presidency, which is made up of Knesset
Speaker Reuven Rivlin and his deputies, sets the week’s voting agenda on Monday
afternoon. It is subject to change depending on deals between factions, which
then have to be approved by Rivlin, or factions’ decisions to withdraw
A third bill related to judicial selection, which would have
the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee hold public hearings for
potential justices, is currently frozen by the Ministerial Committee on
Last week, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein told Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Neeman that the bill, proposed by Elkin and MK
Yariv Levin (Likud), had constitutional difficulties.
Netanyahu said he would not support the bill, because “the independence of the
judiciary is above anything.”
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