Majadle seeks to limit term of Shari’a courts head

Labor MK's bill would limit the term of the Shari’a court president from ten to seven years.

justice court gavel ruling law 370 (photo credit: Thinkstock)
justice court gavel ruling law 370
(photo credit: Thinkstock)
A row has broken out in the Arab community over a bill proposed in Knesset by MK Ghaleb Majadle (Labor) to shorten the term limit of the president of the Shari’a court system.
The current term limit is 10 years, which Majadle, the Knesset deputy speaker, seeks to reduce to seven. At the same time, his bill would remove from office the incumbent president, Qadi Ahmed Natur, who, due to an anomaly in a law passed in 2002, has served for 18 years as president and has another 11 years before he would be required to step down.
Majadle’s bill would limit the term of the Shari’a court president to seven years, in line with that of presidents of magistrate and regional courts and the Supreme Court.
The law also requires that a new president be elected within six months of the passage of the bill and Natur’s removal.
“The Arab community deserves fitting leadership that is subject to all the rules of proper administration, not the misuse of office because of [public] fatigue,” Majadle said of the current situation.
According to Majadle’s office, the bill has caused a stir within the Arab political leadership, so that, although the four MKs from Hadash originally signed on to the bill, once it became public, they removed their names from the proposed legislation.
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post, MK Muhammad Barakei, secretary-general of the Hadash party, said that he respected Majadle’s opinion but does not agree that there is a need to change the law until Natur’s term is up.
Barakei also denied that he and his party ever supported Majadle’s bill and argued that it was not Natur’s fault that the current law permits him to stay in his post for such an extended period of time.
He added that it was only right that the president of the Shari’a court system should have the same age of retirement, 70, as that of the Supreme Court.
Majadle claims that Natur is close with Shawki Khatib, the chairman of the Monitoring Committee of the Israeli Arab Leadership, an extra-parliamentary organization representing Arabs citizens, and as such is well placed to exert strong public pressure against MKs supporting the bill.
There are eight Shari’a courts around the country that deal with issues of marriage, divorce, conversion to Islam, inheritance laws and other matters within the Muslim community.