By SHEERA CLAIRE FRENKEL
The Labor faction meeting Monday was intended to be a going-away party for MK Avraham Shochat, who was expected to retire from the Knesset this week.
But Shochat, who announced his retirement months ago, was bombarded by pleas from his fellow Labor MKs to delay his retirement by several weeks so that he could take part in the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court.
Although Shochat has not yet announced his decision, he confirmed the fears of the MKs that Justice Minister Tzipi Livni might take advantage of his absence from the Judicial Selection Committee to pass resolutions that Shochat wouldn't like.
Slated to fill Shochat's seat is a right-wing MK who would support the justice minister's appointment of Professor Ruth Gavison as a Supreme Court Justice.
Shochat began his career as a paratrooper in the Israeli Defense Forces, entering political life when he founded the city of Arad and served as its mayor for more than two decades. He was elected to the Knesset in 1984, and served as chairman of the Finance Committee before becoming finance minister from 1992-1996. He served a second term as finance minister from July 1999 to March 2001.