Schneller: End boycott of Zionists in High Rabbinical Court

Mk says he won’t let appointments of new rabbinic judges to take place since only haredim were final candidates on last week’s shortlist.

By JONAH MANDEL
July 18, 2011 03:48
2 minute read.
Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman

yaakov neeman 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

A key member of the Committee for Appointing Rabbinical Judges is warning he will prevent new rabbinic judges joining the High Rabbinical Court of Appeals, if a Zionist rabbi is not one of them.

For six months, the committee has been unsuccessful in filling the four vacant places in that court. Last Wednesday was supposed to be when the new judges would be appointed, but MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) who serves as one of the Knesset committee members, said on Sunday he wouldn’t let the appointments take place since only haredim were final candidates on last week’s shortlist.

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“I won’t lend a hand to new appointments so long as there is no religious Zionist representative. The boycott of Zionists in the High Rabbinical Court must come to an end,” said Schneller. “I won’t convene the committee until there is unanimous agreement among the members.”

Though he does not have the power to veto the committee’s decisions, it is believed he has influence over Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, who does have that authority. Neeman and Schneller are two of the four national-religious members of the committee. The other six members are haredi.

The committee will most likely not meet again until the end of the year.

“A new constellation in the 10-man committee will come into existence this December,” when Rabbi Haggai Izrir will retire from the High Rabbinical Court, as well as his from the committee, Schneller explained. Izrir will apparently be replaced by Sephardi rabbi Zion Elgrabli.

Sources close to the committee said it was the initiative of Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, also a member of the committee, to freeze its work until the appointment of Elgrabli.

“As long as this constellation does not change, I will prevent the committee from convening and appointing new members,” Schneller said.

The Knesset member was not worried that his recalcitrance would cause a backlog in the work of the High Rabbinical Court, the highest appeals court in that system.

“Maybe we should consider making the highest appeals court a secular one,” he mused. “If this causes an accumulation of ‘chained’ women whose husbands are refusing them Jewish divorces who cannot receive the help they need from the rabbinical courts, they can file a petition to the High Court of Justice. I won’t be extorted on this,” he said.


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