Knesset meeting Netanyahu and coalition 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition failed to elect a representative
to the committee that selects Supreme Court justices, in a dramatic secret
ballot vote Monday in the Knesset.
The MKs normally select one MK from
the coalition and one from the opposition to the two slots on the selection
committee that are reserved for MKs. But the Knesset voted for MKs Isaac Herzog
(Labor) and Yitzhak Cohen (Shas) over the coalition’s candidate, Yisrael Beytenu
MK David Rotem.
Cohen is Shas’s most leftwing MK. He recently wrote to
Netanyahu urging him to adopt the Arab League’s diplomatic initiative. The vote
means that the judges to be selected to replace retiring justices Asher Grunis
and Edna Arbel on the Supreme Court will likely be very dovish.
was seen as revenge by deposed Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, who blames his job
loss on Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman.
campaigned to defeat Rotem, a close Liberman associate.
In the race for
places on the committee for appointing rabbinical judges, MK Shuli Muallem of
Bayit Yehudi and MK Eli Yishai of Shas were elected as the coalition and opposition Knesset representatives, respectively.
Women’s rights groups
had opposed the election of a haredi MK to the committee, since they hope to
promote the appointment of liberal-minded rabbinic judges to better protect
women in divorce proceedings which rabbinical courts deal with, something that
such groups fear a haredi MK will seek to thwart.
MK Merav Michaeli was
also an opposition candidate for the rabbinical judges committee and was
promoted by the women’s rights organizations, but lost out to Yishai.
are very disappointed that the government that has claimed it will make efforts
to promote women’s rights and fight against their exclusion, failed to elect the
two women candidates as their representatives in the committee that appoints the
rabbinical court judges,” said the International Coalitions of Agunah Rights in
a statement to the press. “Members of both the coalition and opposition bear
full responsibility for this situation.”
Speculation had persisted
throughout this week that various political deals were being formulated between
different opposition parties for the election of different opposition MKs to
both the rabbinical judges committee and the Supreme Court justices committee,
according to the priorities ascribed by the different opposition parties to
The Jerusalem Post understands that Yesh Atid MKs voted for
Yishai, although this could not be independently confirmed by press
The vote by all 120 MKs, minus several absentees, is conducted by
secret ballot, so it is not possible to determine who voted how.