Right-wingers to select judges after coalition wins vote

Labor MK beats Likud for rabbinical court committee.

July 23, 2015 06:17
2 minute read.
Judges preside in court

Judges preside in court (Illustrative). (photo credit: ILLUSTRATIVE: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

There were mixed results for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's governing coalition early Thursday in a vote at the Knesset for the committees that select judges for secular and rabbinical courts.

Due to a deal with Yisrael Beytenu, both the coalition and opposition's representatives on the judicial selection committee for secular courts will be right-wing: Likud MK Nurit Koren for the coalition and Yisrael Beytenu faction chairman Robert Ilatov for the opposition.

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But in the secret-ballot vote held among MKs at the Knesset, Zionist Union MK Revital Swid defeated the Likud's Nava Boker for a vacancy on the rabbinical court selection committee that was reserved for a woman.

Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) MKs from the coalition apparently joined the opposition in voting for Swid, who is Orthodox and comes from a family of rabbis who lived in Hebron ahead of the 1929 Arab riots. Haredi MKs complained ahead of the vote that Boker had made statements in the past that were supportive of religious pluralism.

Channel 2 cameras caught Netanyahu expressing outrage to Shas leader Arye Deri at the Knesset over Shas's intention to vote against the Likud's candidate.

After the vote, opposition leader Isaac Herzog declared victory, saying that the coalition was weak and its future short.

Swid said the coalition had tried to scare MKs into voting against their conscience.

"I am happy that in a secret-ballot vote, MKs chose the woman who will serve the citizens best on a committee that has a lot of influence on women and men in Israel," she said.

Netanyahu’s previous coalition suffered a defeat in June 2013, when the Knesset voted for opposition MKs Isaac Herzog (Labor) and Yitzhak Cohen (Shas) over the coalition’s candidate for the judicial selection committee, Yisrael Beytenu MK David Rotem.

Two of Thursday’s votes were uncontested. The candidates for the subcommittee to select judges to Muslim religious courts were MKs Yoav Ben-Tzur (Shas), Osama Sa’adi (Joint List) and Esawi Frej (Meretz) and to Druse courts were MKs Abdullah Abu Marouf (Joint List) and Hamad Amer (Yisrael Beytenu). All five MKs will be on the committees, because the candidates all meet the exact criteria of who needs to be chosen.

Swid said she would use her membership on the committee to ensure that "fitting judges are elected who will maintain the rights of women and help them receive equal treatment in the rabbinical courts."

She singled out women who have been refused divorces as a challenge she will focus on.

"The next appointments will decide the character of the rabbinical courts for years to come and will impact countless people," she said.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report

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