Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman told the cabinet on Sunday that The Independent Public Commission to Examine the Maritime Incident of 31.5.2010 had asked five women to join it since the High Court ordered it to do so, but that all refused.

He named the women as retired Tel Aviv District Court judge Hadassah Ben-Ito, Tel Aviv University law professor Nili Cohen, Hebrew University professor Michal Pomerantz, Jerusalem District Court judge Miriam Rubinstein, and retired Jerusalem District Court judge Yehudit Tzur.

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In a related development, the High Court released the detailed decision by Supreme Court Justices Miriam Naor, Salim Joubran and Uzi Fogelman, including the reasons it accepted a petition by three women’s organizations (Itach – Female Lawyers for Justice, The Women’s Network and Ken – Women’s Power for the Advancement of Female Leadership in Israel) charging that the public commission, headed by retired justice Jacob Turkel, had not done enough to find a female candidate.

Fogelman, who wrote the decision, quoted the state as informing the court that after the government agreed to add two more experts to the commission, it asked a female professor who specialized in international law several times to join, but she had refused.

Turkel had also asked a retired professor specializing in international law to join the commission but she, too, rejected the offer. Turkel then turned to a former military officer, but her candidacy was rejected by the attorney-general.

In the meantime, the commission asked law professor Miguel Deutch and former diplomat Reuven Merhav to join while the search for a female member continued.

The commission rejected 10 female candidates suggested by the prime minister’s legal adviser on the grounds that none could compare with Deutch and Merhav.

Fogelman wrote that there was no question that in principle the government was obliged to appoint a woman to the commission, even though each situation had to be considered individually. Nevertheless, he concluded that the commission had failed to fulfill its duty in that it had not been sufficiently active in seeking a female candidate.

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