Selection panel appoints nine judges

The Judicial Selection Committee appointed nine new judges on Wednesday and approved several changes to the procedures for choosing their brethren in the future. One participant in the meeting said there was no discernible tension between Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, even though they appeared to have clashed over the agenda of the meeting in the days before it took place. The panel also appointed seven retired judges, who will be able to return to the bench until they reach the age of 75. In a letter sent by Friedmann to the members of the committee several days ago, he said he had decided to devote the meeting to considering procedural changes, including new requirements for candidates for judicial positions. Beinisch wrote to Friedmann saying the meeting should be devoted to appointing more judges because of a severe shortage on manpower. The meeting's actual agenda appeared to be a compromise between the two positions. The committee approved several of the minister's proposals. For example, from now on, candidates will have to submit their university grades along with their application form. Every judge seeking advancement to a higher court will have to appear before a subcommittee of the Judicial Selection Committee, just as new candidates must. The committee also decided that opinions on judges seeking promotion submitted by the Bar Association, the court presidents and representatives of a higher court that has considered appeals against rulings handed down by candidates, will have to be submitted 10 days before the panel votes on the appointment. According to another decision, members of the Judicial Selection Committee will be able to be present during the course given by the Judges' In-Training Center for potential candidates for the judiciary. The new appointments to the bench included Atrash Shaher, Nazareth District Court, and Inas Salameh and Varda Toister, Haifa Magistrate's Court. The retired judges included Ezra Kama and Ruth Eliaz to the Jerusalem District Court and Haim Galpaz to the Nazareth District Court. There were no serious disagreements over any of the appointments, according to a participant in the meeting. In a related development, Beinisch met early this week with a delegation of lawyers from the Philadelphia Bar and told them she did not believe that the independence of the Supreme Court was being threatened by Friedmann's proposed changes to the judiciary. The American lawyers asked her whether she was concerned about the recent attacks on the court. "I believe Israel's democracy is strong and also that the public understands that a blow to the independence of the judiciary is a blow to democracy." She also told the lawyers that it was urgent to fill the vacancies in the Supreme Court, where only 10 of the 15 permanent positions are filled.