Controversial former Israel Bar Association head Efi Nave and the Zionist Legal Initiative signed an agreement on Tuesday to join together to divide vote mandates for the National Council between them in the attorney organization’s June 20 leadership election.
The National Council selects the two Bar representatives for the Judicial Selection Committee, which appoints judges to the High Court of Justice and lower courts.
“Everyone is busy with the appointments to the Judicial Selection Committee in the Knesset,” said Zionist Legal list member Anat Kaufman in a campaign video on Tuesday, referring to Wednesday’s vote. “But there’s two more representatives from the Bar Association. The person who selects them isn’t the Bar chairman, but the National Council.”
Kaufman said that this made the upcoming votes in the Bar election even more important. She urged attorneys to vote for her list, which is led by deputy Bar chairman Itzhak Natovich and purports to support Zionist principles in law. The list has alluded to support for the judicial reforms by saying it supports the results of the election. It has also stated that the association has become like a branch of the Knesset opposition, and that the previous and current interim Bar heads have been too politically active in their protests against the reform.
Interim Bar head Amit Becher, also a Bar election candidate, claimed at a protest on Saturday that the government was seeking to have politically-aligned candidates win the election, rise to the Judicial Selection Committee and thereby control the judiciary. Becher didn’t name who these pro-government candidates were.
Accusations against Efi Nave
With the election less than a week away, Nave continued to publish attack ads against Becher, and claimed on Wednesday that his opponent was using public Bar funds to finance protests against the government.
While the former Bar head has declared that he does not support judicial reforms as they are currently formulated, which removes Bar representatives from the Judicial Selection Committee, he has also decried Becher’s politicization of the group.
Nave promised on Monday that he would make it more difficult to file complaints against lawyers with the Bar Ethics Committee. He said that the process was being inappropriately used, leading to a waste of time and resources. He proposed to implement a fee to file complaints.
Nave is a controversial figure in the race, with the Movement for Quality Government in Israel repeatedly demanding that the State Attorney’s Office issue a complaint to the Bar Ethics Committee against Nave’s election campaign over his past conviction and sex scandal. The office has declined to do so.
In 2019, Nave resigned from the Bar chairmanship after he was accused of having sexual relations in exchange for recommendations to a judge position. The case was dropped for lack of viability in 2021. Nave was also convicted in 2022 for sneaking his partner past customs border security at Ben-Gurion Airport in 2018.
Some 77,000 Bar association members are expected to vote in the election this coming Tuesday.