'Bills limiting settlers, Arabs as justices valid'

Knesset Legal Adviser says legislation by Tibi, Ben-Ari on Supreme Court justice selection should not be disqualified.

January 2, 2012 04:21
2 minute read.
Israel's Supreme Court

Israeli Supreme Court 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/FILE)


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Two controversial bills on Supreme Court justice selection – one that would disqualify settlers, and another that would not allow most Israeli-Arabs to be considered for the judiciary – were declared valid for a plenum vote by Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon on Sunday.

The Knesset presidency, which is made up of Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and his deputies, is allowed to prevent any bill that denies the State of Israel as a Jewish State or is inherently racist from being brought to a vote. The presidency asked Yinon to study the legal standing of the two bills.

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The first bill, proposed by MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) declares that a judge may not be appointed to the Supreme Court if he does not live “within the borders of the State of Israel, or if he lives in a place that violates international law.”

MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) drafted the second bill, which would only allow judges who served in the IDF or National Service to be selected for the Supreme Court. In addition, any current Supreme Court judges that did not do military or civilian service may not be chosen as Supreme Court president, according to Ben-Ari’s proposal.

Yinon wrote to the Knesset Presidency that neither bill is inherently racist, in that they do not seek to disqualify potential Supreme Court Justices based on color, religion or ethnicity.

At the same time, Yinon emphasized that, in his opinion, the bills violate basic principles, in that they seek to discriminate against specific population groups.

However, because the bills do not contradict any Basic Laws, the Knesset presidency has no reason to reject them.

Ben-Ari said that Yinon’s recommendation proves that the demand for a Supreme Court president that “equally carries the social burden” is not racist.

The MK specifically mentioned Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran, saying that if he wants to lead the court, he must enlist in the IDF or do National Service.

According to Tibi, his bill is to prevent the “unimaginable situation, in which Supreme Court justices live outside of the sovereign borders of their state.”

He added that settlements contradict international law, and that a “settler Supreme Court justice” would not be able to justify his residence before the International Court of Justice in the Hague or University of Oxford’s law faculty.

MK Danny Danon (Likud), a deputy Knesset speaker, slammed Tibi’s proposal, saying that “Arab treachery must be stopped.”

“I will not allow an anti- Israel bill that slanders the name of settlers in Judea and Samaria to pass in the Knesset presidency vote,” he stated.

“Tibi belongs in [the Palestinian parliament in] Ramallah.”

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