(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The opposition may be left without a representative in the Judicial Selection Committee at a pivotal time, after Yisrael Beytenu joins the coalition.
Between now and the end of 2017, four Supreme Court justices will reach retirement age, including court President Miriam Naor, giving the current committee unique influence.
The Knesset’s two representatives to the committee are MK Nurit Koren (Likud), from the coalition, and MK Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu), of the opposition when he was voted in, but soon will be part of the coalition, as well.
Since 1992, the custom has been for the Knesset to select one representative from the coalition and one from the opposition to serve on the Judicial Selection Committee, but this is not a requirement under law.
In fact, when the Knesset voted on the members last year, some in the narrow 61-seat coalition were concerned that two opposition representatives would end up being voted in.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said Wednesday that she saw no reason for Ilatov to leave the committee.
“There’s a custom, it’s not the law,” to have an opposition representative, she told Army Radio. “Robert Ilatov is an excellent committee member, and I don’t think he has to resign.”
MK Esawi Frej (Meretz) demanded that Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Shaked remove Ilatov from the committee and hold a vote for a new opposition representative.
According to Frej, since the custom of having a coalition and opposition representative has been unbroken for 24 years, it has legal standing.
“The Judicial Selection Committee has an important role in establishing the face of the country. It is not coincidental that it was agreed that one of the Knesset representatives must be from the opposition, and it is important to continue implementing this rule, which is meant to give political forces that are not part of the government expression in the process,” Frej wrote.
The Meretz MK added that “the expected selection of four new Supreme Court justices cannot be done without having the voice of the parliamentary opposition be heard.”