18 new judges appointed following long hiatus

Following a hiatus of almost two years in which no new judges were appointed, 18 new judges and senior court registrars were appointed on Thursday, just ahead of the end of the year 2020.

Judges pose for group photo (photo credit: Courtesy)
Judges pose for group photo
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Following a hiatus of almost two years in which no new judges were appointed, 18 new judges and senior court registrars were appointed on Thursday, just ahead of the end of 2020.
Stating that there was a 10% deficit in the judicial network, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, explained that the occurrence of three Knesset elections in less than a two-year period had precluded the convening of the Judicial Appointments Committee.
The new appointees, she said, included religious and secular, women and men (nine of each) and Jews and Arabs, as well as people from the center of the country and those from the periphery.
Hayut also emphasized that despite “dangerous” political efforts to undermine the status of the judicial network, it remains an island of stability amid a stormy political sea, which despite the crisis that has overwhelmed the country, did not stop working for a single day.
She suggested that the courts should be free of political interference.
As always, the appointments ceremony took place in the President’s Residence in the presence of President Reuven Rivlin, Hayut and Labor Court President Varda Wirth Livne.
Also present was outgoing Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn, whose resignation on Wednesday morning has not yet become effective.  It was the first and last time that he had been part of the praesidium at a ceremony of this nature.  Ignoring the formality of the occasion, Nissenkorn came in his former guise of trade union chief, tieless and wearing an open-necked shirt.
Due to the present lockdown, the main hall of the President’s Residence was bereft of the new appointees’ families, and of the spate of dignitaries who were present at past ceremonies.
Rivlin, Hayut, Wirth Livne and Nissenkorn, all with faces masked, sat on the stage. In another part of the hall, veteran broadcaster Dan Kaner (in lieu of a court registrar), read out the name of each new appointee and the court to which he or she has been appointed.
Each person would emerge from a small reception room into the large hall, take their place at a stand some distance from the stage, remove their mask to make an oral declaration in addition to the written declaration which they signed, and would then pick up a folder from a low table alongside the stand. The folder contained the official document attesting to the appointment. The new judge would then stand with masked face in front of the stage to be photographed.
Rivlin bowed to each new judge as they approached, and some bowed back to him.  There was some confusion over where they should stand for the photo, and each was photographed with mask intact.  But at the end of the ceremony, they all came together for a socially distanced group photograph, with everyone wearing a mask.
If it wasn’t so serious, it would have been hilariously funny.
Sworn in were 12 district court judges, five labor court judges, one magistrate’s court judge and two senior court registrars. It is anticipated that an additional 54 judges will be sworn in sometime within the next month.
In their addresses, all four dignitaries on stage referred to the importance of democracy, with Rivlin, Hayut and Wirth Livne emphasizing the need to temper justice with compassion, urging the new appointees to have “a listening heart” and to remember that they are dealing with the lives of human beings.
Rivlin also noted the significance of transparency, and said that because it was such a valued component of democracy, he had decided to video many of the events that he hosted live, so that they could be watched by the public as they were happening and afterwards.
Nissenkorn, obviously with the upcoming trials of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his mind, stressed more than once in his address that all people are equal before the Law.