Four Knesset members, two from the coalition and two from the opposition, filed their candidacy ahead of the Knesset's vote for its second representative on the Judicial Selection Committee next Wednesday (July 12).
The MKs are Yizhak Kreuzer (Otzma Yehudit), Moshe Solomon (Religious Zionist Party), Idan Roll (Yesh Atid) and Ron Katz (Yesh Atid).
The vote for the Knesset's representatives is anonymous, and the Knesset elected Yesh Atid MK Karin Elharrar to the committee in the initial vote on June 14, with the support of at least four Knesset members from the coalition.
The opposition does not intend to appoint one of its members to the committee, but put forward two candidates in order to prevent an attempt by the coalition to delay the vote once again.
If there are only two candidates
If there are only two candidates, the vote becomes "yes" or "no" for each. If either one of the candidates receives more "no" than "yes" votes then the vacancy on the committee remains and a new vote must take place within 30 days. The two Yesh Atid candidates on the ballot ensure that, along with at least one coalition candidate, their will be at least three candidates left, and then the candidate who receives the most votes wins.
The nine-member Judicial Selection Committee includes three High Court justices, one of whom is the chief justice; two ministers, one of whom is the justice minister; two Knesset members; and two representatives of the Israel Bar Association (IBA). One each of the judges, ministers, MKs and IBA representatives must be a woman.
The committee is responsible for appointing judges at all levels of Israel's civil court system. While not required by law, the coalition traditionally votes to occupy one spot on the committee, and allows the opposition to occupy the second spot.
According to coalition agreements between the Likud and Otzma Yehudit signed in December, Otzma Yehudit will occupy the coalition's spot on the committee. Kreuzer is Otzma Yehudit chairman MK Itamar Ben-Gvir's representative, and he is likely to be elected to the committee.
The proposed judicial reform
The committee's makeup is one of the most contentious issues in the government's proposed judicial reform.
Justice Minister Yariv Levin and other proponents of the judicial reform argue that the Bar Association members have an interest in siding with the judges before whom they appear in court. This gives the judges a de facto majority in the committee and the ability to choose whomever they see fit. Levin argued that the elected representatives of the people should be the ones appointing the nation’s judges, and therefore proposed to amend the committee’s makeup such that the coalition has a majority.
The opposition, however, has argued that giving the coalition complete power over judicial appointments will turn these appointments into part of the political give-and-take, and thus create a system where judges are chosen due to their political affiliations and not their skill or expertise.
In an election for the Israel Bar Association leadership last month, the victor was a staunch opponent of the judicial reforms, Amit Becher. Becher's party also won 16 out of the IBA's 30-seat council. The council elects the IBA's two representatives on the Judicial Selection Committee. Therefore, the two IBA representatives on the committee will likely be hostile to Levin.
Even if Kreuzer is elected to occupy the Knesset's second seat on the committee, Levin has not yet declared who the second minister, who must be a woman, will be. This could delay the committee's formation. Levin also controls the frequency of the committee's meetings, and he may choose to delay its work as much as possible so as to keep alive the hope to change the committee's makeup, which will be much harder to do once the committee begins its work. This could lead to the delay in filling the approximately 80 vacancies in the court system.
The Knesset next Wednesday will also hold a repeat vote for its representatives on the committees that appoint judges to the three religious judicial court systems, after it did not fill all these positions in the vote last month - National Unity MK Pnina Tamano-Shata secured one out of the two spots reserved for Knesset members on the Dayanim (Jewish religious judges) Selection Committee, and no representatives were chosen for the Kadim Selection Committee (Muslim) or Kadim-Madhab Selection Committee (Druze).