Yisrael Beytenu MK submits bill to limit terms of Supreme Court justices

"They are attacking the last guardians of Israeli democracy," says Zionist MK in response.

The Supreme Court, Jerusalem (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Supreme Court, Jerusalem
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Supreme Court justices’ terms should be limited to 12 years, says Yisrael Beytenu MK Robert Ilatov.
According to the bill he submitted to the Knesset secretariat on Wednesday, the judges would serve not less than seven years and not more than 12.
Under the current law, there is no limit on judges’ term, except for mandatory retirement at 70. (After their 70th birthday, judges continue to work on cases they already started.) The term can also be ended by resignation of the judges or, in special cases, by the Judicial Selection Committee.
Ilatov’s bill would only apply only to the Supreme Court.
Ilatov, who is a member of the Judicial Selection Committee, told The Jerusalem Post the current situation reduces the options of the committee, and means their selections are often based on the age of the candidate and not on his or her skills.
“You do not want to pick someone who is too young, so they won’t accumulate too much power [over fellow justices] over the years considering the fact that they are there until they are 70,” he said. “Staying that long in the same position is also exhausting,” he added.
In the current situation, the committee cannot choose candidates who are close to 70, even if they are extremely qualified, because they will have to retire after a short while, he said. This creates a situation in which there is a small range of ages that the committee can choose from, according to Ilatov.
The explanatory notes to the bill say its second purpose is to create a “proper turnover that will allow for a diversity of qualified and suitable judges with a variety of worldviews and from different sectors and genders.”
The Judicial Selection Committee is currently discussing the replacement of four of the Supreme Court justices who will reach the age of 70 in 2017 or 2018: the court’s President Miriam Naor, Deputy President Elyakim Rubinstein, and justices Salim Joubran and Zvi Zylbertal.
This comes amid a coalition legislative offensive against the Supreme Court, seen as left-wing.
On Sunday it was reported that Bayit Yehudi MK Moti Yogev is initiating legislation to revoke the Supreme Court’s ability to annul laws.
Yogev suggested that Israel adopt the British model, in which the Supreme Court has the authority to point out when a normal law contradicts a Basic Law, but the legislature is ultimately allowed to decide whether or not to annul the normal law.
MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) criticized Ilatov’s bill and suggested that it continues, in a subterranean way, efforts by the Right to weaken the court.
“MK Ilatov is envy of his friends who are publicly torturing the Supreme Court every day,” Shai said.
Shai said that the bill echoes remarks made on Tuesday by Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud), who warned the Supreme Court against interfering in the Knesset’s prerogatives.
“[Levin] was backed by other ministers and lawmakers from the coalition, and together they are attacking the last guardians of Israeli democracy. They wish to erode it and to topple it,” he said.
Shai concluded by calling on Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) to speak out and defend the Supreme Court from her colleges in the coalition. “We are in a great war for the face of our democracy and the battle is far from being over,” he said.