Yosef to Ramon: Appoint rabbinic judges soon

Justice Minister Haim Ramon visited Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef at his home in Jerusalem Monday to discuss delays in the appointing of 11 rabbinic judges. There are supposed to be 95 judges, but there are only 84. The dearth of judges has caused a backlog of divorce cases and extended waiting time for court decisions, said Rabbi Eliyahu Ben-Dahan, administrative head of the rabbinic courts. The meeting, attended by Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Shas chairman Eli Yishai, was initiated by Yosef, who appealed to Ramon to speed the judicial appointment process. Ramon said he was aware of the delays and their consequences and said that he was doing his best to speed the work of the Knesset council responsible for appointing judges. Ramon also expressed interest in talking with Yosef about his position on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's realignment plan, but Yishai said that a separate meeting would be dedicated to diplomatic matters. Ben-Dahan said that the 10-man council could not convene until two MKs were appointed. The council consists of two ministers (Yishai and Ramon), two MKs, two attorneys, two rabbinic judges (Rabbi Shlomo Ben-Shimon and Rabbi Hagai Izirer) and the two chief rabbis, Amar and Rabbi Yona Metzger. Another obstacle to the convening of the council could be Metzger, who was asked by Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz to resign. Mazuz might attempt to intervene if Metzger insists on sitting on the council.