After a dramatic Israel Bar Association election on Tuesday with record turnout, judicial reform opponent and interim Bar chairman Amit Becher appeared to have won the race on Wednesday morning.
"I would like to thank you, the tens of thousands of lawyers from all over Israel without exception: Secular and haredi, right and left-wing, Jews and Arabs," Becher said Wednesday morning. "You enlisted as one to fight for the honor of the profession and democracy. Your statement is heard all over the country. Together we will strengthen the independence of the judicial system, protect democracy and advance the interests of lawyers."
The vote on Tuesday saw long queues, requiring time extensions into the night so that attorneys could cast their ballots. Counting began early Wednesday morning, with indications that of the over 77,000 attorneys eligible for voting, 60% cast their ballots.
As initial results began to suggest that Becher was taking a strong lead, political supporters congratulated the interim Bar chairman and determined that the outcome would have significant repercussions for the state's judicial reform debate.
"All the coalition systems headed by [Justice Minister] Yariv [Levin] and [Religious Zionist MK Simcha] Rothman rallied against the Bar chairman Becher and they were defeated democratically."Ron Katz
Opponents of Israeli judicial reform congratulate Amit Becher on Israel Bar Association election
"The elections in the Bar Association are a reflection of the will of the Israeli public, who want clean hands, honesty and above all protection of Israeli democracy," Yesh Atid MK Ron Katz said Wednesday morning. "All the coalition systems headed by [Justice Minister] Yariv [Levin] and [Religious Zionist MK Simcha] Rothman rallied against the Bar chairman Becher and they were defeated democratically."
Katz said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should note the vote outcome.
Leaders of anti-reform protest groups also congratulated Becher early in the morning, seeing his ostensible victory as a success against the reform.
"The democratic camp achieved a tremendous achievement on the way to saving Israeli democracy," the protest groups said in a statement. "We congratulate Amit Becher on his overwhelming victory."
The protest groups said that civil society had made great progress in political engagement to protect democratic systems, as shown by attorneys and other professional communities such as hi-tech workers.
The Bar Association's National Council is able to appoint two representatives to the Judicial Selection Committee, the panel which lies at the heart of judicial reform debate since the beginning of 2023. Reform proposals have sought to change the composition of the committee to remove the Bar, which pro-reformists say forms a voting bloc with judiciary representatives to undemocratically control judicial appointments.