An expanded panel of nine Supreme Court justices convened on Sunday to deliberate the fate of a seven-year-old girl.
The expanded hearing was held at the request of the attorney-general’s office after the court decided in January to return the girl into the custody of her mother, a recovering drug addict.
The girl, who was born in 2004, was taken out of the custody of her biological parents months after she was born at the request of the parents, who claimed that they were incapable of tending to her needs and that the girl would be better off in the care of the state.
A few years later, the mother began a rehabilitation process and the child was returned to her custody, while she was living in a halfway house. During her rehabilitation, the mother underwent a drug test, which found traces of narcotics in her system and the young girl was once again removed from her custody. It was then decided that she would begin an adoption process with an adopting family.
The mother appealed the decision in the district court, but the judge
ruled against her. The mother then appealed once more to the Supreme
Court, which was convinced that she had completed the rehabilitation
process and granted her custody.
The state however was unconvinced and requested that the case be debated
once more in the Supreme Court, this time by an expanded panel. Supreme
Court President Justice Dorit Beinisch granted the request. On Sunday,
the panel began hearing from the mother, in a closed-door session, about
her recovery process and her deep-seated desire to have custody of her
Ronen Daliyahu, the mother’s attorney, said that he came out of the courtroom with mixed emotions.
“On one hand, I can understand the court’s reluctance to grant custody
of the girl to the biological mother, taking into account her history
and the risks involved, but on the other hand, it is clear that in a
modern welfare state, there is no better option than granting custody to
a biological parent, when they have turned their life around. The state
must give the biological mother all the tools possible so that she can
raise her daughter,” Daliyahu told reporters.
“It is no small thing that nine judges meet to discuss the future of a
single little girl,” the lawyer added. “The mother hopes that they will
rule in her favor and that she will be able to have her daughter with
her for Pessah.”
The mother herself said that she was optimistic and that she prayed that she could keep her daughter.
The judges’ decision is expected in the upcoming days.