High Court: Turkel must appoint woman

Committee has until August 29 to offer position to 5 women.

Turkel Committee (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
Turkel Committee
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
The High Court of Justice ordered the state on Thursday to appoint a woman to the commission investigating IDF conduct during the raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara on May 31.
The court gave the state until August 29 to make the appointment, adding that if the state offers the position to five women and they all refuse, then the state will have fulfilled its obligation on the issue.
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Before the decision was made Thursday, the court received a letter from former Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, the head of the Turkel Commission, in which he said the appointment of a woman to the committee would be irrelevant as most of the testimonies, including those of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, have already been heard.
The state has said that during the formation of the committee three different women were offered a spot, but all three refused.
In late July the cabinet approved the addition of two additional members to the original three-man committee, former Foreign Ministry director-general Reuven Merhavand and law professor Miguel Deutsch. At the time, the decision to add two additional male members was criticized by Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat.
Following the enlargement of the committee, which also features two male international observers, a petition was sent to the state by a collection of three different women’s groups, including Women Lawyers for Social Justice, The Israel Women’s Network, and Koach Nashim (Women’s Strength).
Anat Tahon-Ashkenazi of Women Lawyers for Social Justice said Thursday it was important there be a woman on the panel because “the law says that state committees must include women. The law demands this.”
She denied claims that the petition was an effort to get more ideologically left-wing people on the commission.
“The law demands women on the committee. If this means that the group ends up being more liberal or a greater variety of views, so be it. We want to bring a different voice, and that’s the women’s voice. The law demands this,” she said.
She added that the three organizations have offered to help the government find appropriate female candidates.
“We know it’s not our job to find the candidates, but we work with very many capable women, and if the state needs help and turns to us, we’ll be happy to turn over a list of women,” she said.