Courts to shift Right after Knesset vote
Right-wing MKs Ariel and Rotem win seat on judicial selection c'tee; seen as big victory for Netanyahu.
By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
June 8, 2009 22:30
2 minute read.
netanyahu at cabinet 248.88.
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The Supreme Court and other courts are expected to shift to the right and become less activist after the Knesset voted two right-wing MKs to the judicial selection committee on Monday.
National Union MK Uri Ariel and Israel Beiteinu MK David Rotem were voted on to the committee as representatives of the opposition and coalition, respectively, defeating Kadima MK Ronnie Bar-On and Labor MK Eitan Cabel.
Ariel and Rotem will join ministers Yaakov Neeman and Gilad Erdan and Israel Bar Association representative Pinhas Marinsky to give opponents of judicial activism their first majority on the committee in recent memory.
The four proponents of judicial activism on the committee are Supreme Court justices Dorit Beinisch, Ayala Procaccia and Edmond Levy and bar association representative Rachel Bar-Or.
Neeman, who as justice minister heads the committee, intends to convene it soon to start filling multiple vacancies on the Supreme Court and several key lower courts.
The vote was seen as a big victory for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and a major defeat for Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, even though Netanyahu's associates denied charges that he campaigned for Ariel over Bar-On.
"Livni failed to get a majority for her candidate even though she heads the largest faction," a Likud spokeswoman said. "The prime minister did not intervene. He has better things to do."
Kadima officials said the 59-58 vote was proof that "you can take Netanyahu out of political hackery but you cannot take the political hackery out of Netanyahu."
Ariel said that appointing more right-wing judges would make the courts more balanced and restore people's faith in the courts, which polls indicate had been falling in recent years.
The Knesset also chose United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni and Kadima MK Otniel Schneller as its representatives on the selection committee of religious court judges, defeating Habayit Hayehudi MK Uri Orbach.
The selection of the haredi Gafni over the moderate Orbach was due in part to political deals made by the candidates in the race for the selection committee for the civil courts.
Rabbi Seth Farber, director of Itim, a center that helps Israelis navigate the rabbinical courts, said one vote would not make a big difference on the committee, which is dominated by the haredim.
"The vote was reflective of the political trend of the haredi parties wielding their power," Farber said. "Politicians sold their votes on the rabbinical courts, not taking into account how the issues of personal status decided by these courts affect the very heart of the Jewish state."
Dan Izenberg and Matthew Wagner contributed to his report