Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann won a small victory Sunday evening with the appointment of attorney Hanan Meltzer to the highest court in the land. Meltzer, who was considered Friedmann's top choice among the candidates for the open Supreme Court positions, is the first attorney from the private sector to receive such an appointment in recent decades.
Analysis: A (very limited) victory for the justice minister
The committee for appointing Supreme Court justices deferred the selections of the other two empty seats on the bench, due to irreconcilable differences between Friedmann and Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch. Beinisch said during the debate on the appointment that the nomination of two private-sector attorneys to the bench would destroy the balance of the Supreme Court.
Friedmann, since he took office, has emphasized that he believed that the inclusion of more private sector attorneys would be beneficial to the highest court.
"The committee did an important deed when they appointed an attorney from the private sector to the Supreme Court," said Friedmann Sunday evening. "I see this [as] greatly important, but I would have been satisfied if, in this meeting, additional qualified candidates had also been elected."
Meltzer and Yoram Danziger - also a private attorney - were considered the most likely candidates for a spot after they won an interim vote carried out by the committee. Friedmann and Interior Minister Roni Bar-On both recused themselves from the vote on Meltzer due to their close personal relationship with the candidate.
Even so, Meltzer won the support of seven committee members, without any significant opposition.
Meltzer, who was selected in the evening meeting in the Justice Department's Jerusalem office, is also the first justice to receive permanent status on the Supreme Court in the last three years.
The court's newest member is 56 and is the child of Holocaust survivors. Educated at the legendary Herzliya Gymnasium, Meltzer received a BA in law with honors from Tel Aviv University before serving in the IDF Prosecutor's Office, where he rose to a reserve rank of lieutenant colonel.
For years, the Tel Aviv-based attorney has been associated with the Labor Party, serving as its legal adviser and running in the party primaries in 1996.
Meltzer has also been employed as a legal adviser on large national projects, including the Trans-Israel Highway, Ben-Gurion 2000 and the Tel Aviv light rail.