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The Judicial Selection Committee is due to meet on Monday to resume deliberations on choosing four new Supreme Court justices. The first item of business, however, is a reconsideration of the longstanding practice of establishing a reservoir of candidates by appointing district court judges as acting justices for nine months, so the permanent justices can assess their suitability.
In fact, according to current practice, only district court judges who have served as acting justices may be selected as permanent appointees to the Supreme Court.
However, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann is opposed to this system, and indeed to the system of appointing acting justices altogether.
According to Friedmann, the temporary appointment of district court judges to the Supreme Court gives them an unfair advantage over other candidates and is therefore discriminatory. This is certainly true vis-Ã -vis other potential district court candidates who, according to the law, can be nominated either by the minister of justice, the president of the Supreme Court or three other members of the nine-person selection committee.
There is no law that stipulates that candidates from the district courts serve as temporary justices and no law that prohibits Friedmann or other members of the committee from nominating candidates who did not serve as temporary justices. Therefore, there is no law preventing candidates who have not served as temporary justices from being elected to the Supreme Court.
Among the 13 nominees for the four vacant posts on the court is the deputy president of the Jerusalem District Court, Yehudit Tzur. Tzur has served as a judge for almost 20 years, including 12 on the district court. She was nominated by Friedmann but has never served as a temporary justice.
All the other district court candidates have served temporary appointments of the Supreme Court, including Yonatan Adiel, David Cheshin and Dvora Berliner. The fourth district court candidate, Uzi Fogelman, who is close to Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, is currently serving as a temporary justice.
In the first meeting of the Judicial Selection Committee on June 24, the three Supreme Court representatives, Beinisch, Supreme Court Deputy President Eliezer Rivlin and Justice Ayala Procaccia insisted en bloc that only district court judges who served as temporary justices could be appointed to the Supreme Court. However, it is not clear that all of them will maintain that position in Monday's meeting, since that policy is not based on law.
On June 24, Friedmann wanted to appoint two private sector lawyers, Hanan Meltzer and Yoram Danziger. The three justices insisted, however, that the committee elect one district court judge as well. None of the five district court candidates won a majority.
Therefore, only one private lawyer was selected - Meltzer. It seems almost certain that Danziger will be selected on Monday, if the committee gets beyond the discussion of the eligibility of district court judges.
The committee consists of two ministers, two MKs, two representatives of the Israel Bar and three Supreme Court justices. Recently, Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima) was replaced by Minister-without-Portfolio Gideon Ezra, also of Kadima. The other panel members are MKs Gilad Erdan (Likud) and Orit Noked (Labor); the chairman of the Israel Bar, Yori Geiron; attorney Pinhas Marinsky; and the three justices, Beinisch, Rivlin and Procaccia.
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