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Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz are due to meet on Monday to try to reach agreement on the state's response to High Court petitions demanding that it cancel the appointments of 15 new dayanim (rabbinical court judges) to the rabbinical courts.
Friedmann presided over the election process on March 19 in which 12 haredi and three national religious rabbis were elected to the rabbinical courts. Three petitioners - rabbis belonging to the Tzohar organization; Emunah, the National Religious Women's Movement; and the Israel Bar - charged that the election was fixed in advance by the haredi parties, who controlled six of the 10 committee seats, and was therefore illegal.
According to reports, Mazuz wants to annul the election on the grounds that certificates granting 14 of the 15 elected rabbis the right to serve as dayanim had expired before the election took place. The certificates have to be renewed every two years.
Friedmann issued a statement on Sunday saying he was willing to consider annulling the election since it would likely be quicker to renew the certificates of the elected rabbis and hold new elections rather than wait until the High Court rules on whether the March 19 elections had been legal or not.
After the petitions were filed, the High Court issued an interim injunction temporarily preventing the rabbis from being sworn in as dayanim.
Friedmann said that when he took office, the election had already been set and the list of candidates had already been prepared. He added that the petitioners had not raised the argument that the candidates had not been eligible for election when the vote was taken.
"The position of the minister that will be presented to the court is that the state could cope with the arguments of the petitioners," said Friedmann's spokesman, Tzahi Moshe. "However, it is possible that this procedure would take longer than for the Dayanim Election Committee to hold new elections. The minister will leave it up to the court to decide between the two possibilities."
According to a spokesperson for the Tzohar rabbis, the certificates of the rabbis who were elected as dayanim have already been renewed, so that the election could take place immediately.