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Acting Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit confirmed on Thursday that he would appoint Justice Dorit Beinisch President of the Supreme Court on September 7 and that he approved the system of seniority in Supreme Court appointments in principle.
"I have already given instructions today to send out invitations for a meeting of the Judges' Selection Committee," Sheetrit told reporters during a press conference at the Justice Ministry. "The meeting will take place on September 7 to appoint [Beinisch] as President of the Supreme Court."
Sheetrit also said that in the coming days he would set the stage for the appointment of Eliezer Rivlin as Beinisch's deputy. Rivlin is the second-longest serving justice in the Supreme Court. "There is no reason not to appoint the deputy president," said Sheetrit. "I think the announcement [of candidates for the position - in this case one candidate -] will be made next week."
Sheetrit also said he would meet with Beinsich later in the day to discuss the appointment to fill the position of head of the Courts Administration, after Judge Boaz Okun resigned. Beinisch did not want Okun, who was a close confidante of outgoing Supreme Court President Aharon Barak, to hold the job.
Sheetrit did not lay out a plan of action for the period of time in which he heads the Justice Ministry. He said his main aim was to provide support and backing for the legal system and service as their mouthpiece in the political sphere.
He made it clear that he did not expect to hold the post for long, and that he would give back the portfolio to Haim Ramon the moment that Ramon was acquitted of the charge he faces in Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court. At the end of three months after Ramon's resignation, which went into effect earlier this week, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will have to appoint a permanent replacement for him. It is likely that Sheetrit will be chosen. But Sheetrit made it clear that even if he was by then the full time Justice Minister, he would immediately and gladly give back the portfolio to Ramon the moment Ramon could rejoin the cabinet.
Sheetrit said he supported Ramon's plans to distribute more civil cases to private lawyers to speed up the law enforcement process. "I did not talk about privatization, but I was the one who started it," he said. "I think that we have to widen this opening, not to make it into a total thing but mainly to help the legal system and the state prosecution. I can't live with a situation in which the legal process takes an average of five years. It is inconceivable as far as I am concerned, and causes great harm to the system of justice."
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