A row has broken out in the Arab community over a bill proposed in Knesset by MK
Ghaleb Majadle (Labor) to shorten the term limit of the president of the Shari’a
The current term limit is 10 years, which Majadle, the
Knesset deputy speaker, seeks to reduce to seven. At the same time, his bill
would remove from office the incumbent president, Qadi Ahmed Natur, who, due to
an anomaly in a law passed in 2002, has served for 18 years as president and has
another 11 years before he would be required to step down.
would limit the term of the Shari’a court president to seven years, in line with
that of presidents of magistrate and regional courts and the Supreme
The law also requires that a new president be elected within six
months of the passage of the bill and Natur’s removal.
community deserves fitting leadership that is subject to all the rules of proper
administration, not the misuse of office because of [public] fatigue,” Majadle
said of the current situation.
According to Majadle’s office, the bill
has caused a stir within the Arab political leadership, so that, although the
four MKs from Hadash originally signed on to the bill, once it became public,
they removed their names from the proposed legislation.
Speaking with The
Jerusalem Post, MK Muhammad Barakei, secretary-general of the Hadash party, said
that he respected Majadle’s opinion but does not agree that there is a need to
change the law until Natur’s term is up.
Barakei also denied that he and
his party ever supported Majadle’s bill and argued that it was not Natur’s fault
that the current law permits him to stay in his post for such an extended period
He added that it was only right that the president of the
Shari’a court system should have the same age of retirement, 70, as that of the
Majadle claims that Natur is close with Shawki Khatib, the
chairman of the Monitoring Committee of the Israeli Arab Leadership, an
extra-parliamentary organization representing Arabs citizens, and as such is
well placed to exert strong public pressure against MKs supporting the
There are eight Shari’a courts around the country that deal with
issues of marriage, divorce, conversion to Islam, inheritance laws and other
matters within the Muslim community.