(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The right-wing members of the Judicial Election Committee insisted on Friday that the committee wait until three new Supreme Court candidates whom they recommended complete the vetting process before the committee fills the vacancies on the court.
MK Uri Ariel (National Union Party) told Ynet after a meeting of the committee on Friday that "we must publish in the Government Gazette the new list of names so that the public can submit objections. That was why it was not possible to choose new Supreme Court justices [today.] We will have enough time over the coming month to discuss these matters among ourselves."
Last month, three committee members, Environment Protection Minister Gilad Erdan and MKs Ariel and David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) submitted to Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman the names of four candidates, including Tel Aviv District Court Judge Yeshayahu Schneller, Jerusalem District Court Judges Noam Sohlberg and Moshe Drori, and Prof. Dov Frimer.
Afterwards, Erdan withdrew his support for Drori. Thus, the Erdan-Ariel-Rotem bloc was left with three candidates, Schneller, Sohlberg and Frimer.
The last official list of Supreme Court candidates was published in the gazette in advance of a meeting of the Judicial Election Committee scheduled for March 22, 2003. That list, which contained 19 names, is now outdated since some of the candidates are no longer seeking election. Furthermore, it does not include the three new candidates proposed by Erdan, Ariel and Rotem and therefore the committee cannot choose them at this point.
Erdan, Ariel and Rotem insist that one of their three candidates be appointed to the Supreme Court, which is why they want to postpone the election until after their candidates have been properly processed. They have the power to veto the choice of any other candidate, under a law that calls for a majority of at least seven committee members to elect a Supreme Court justice.
Neeman has said in the past that no one would be appointed to the Supreme Court without the joint backing of Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and himself. But the bloc of three politicians has the power to circumvent this.
According to reports, Beinisch is insisting that Tel Aviv District Court Judge Uzi Fogelman be appointed to the court. However, she appears to be dissatisfied with most of the other candidates, particularly the candidates put forward by Erdan, Ariel and Rotem.
She will likely accept whomever Neeman puts forward, and the battle will be over the third candidate.
Since the right-wing committee members have the power to prevent the appointment of Fogelman, the dispute between them and Beinisch could deadlock the committee.
One crucial factor that is still unknown is Neeman's opinion of the candidates proposed by Erdan, Ariel and Rotem.