High Court to heat female representation petition

Petition calls for equal representation in rabbinical court appointments; A-G: Knesset should explore female participation.

Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court 390 (photo credit: Ilan Costica / Creative Commons license)
Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court 390
(photo credit: Ilan Costica / Creative Commons license)
The High Court of Justice is due to hear a petition on Monday criticizing the lack of female representation on the commission for appointing Rabbinical Court judges.
In its response to the petition, the state said last Wednesday that the attorney- general believes that after the election, the new government should “consider an appropriate level of female participation” among its factors in deciding the “new members of the commission.”
In light of the great importance of equality of representation, the state’s response said that the attorney-general recommended the Knesset explore legislative possibilities to guarantee more equal representation of women on the committee for appointing judges.
The state added that in light of the overall circumstances, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman would not be pursuing any new initiatives to address the issue until the formation of the next Knesset.
Next, the state noted that in December 2011 and August 2012, the court had ordered a delay in any new appointments until the issue was litigated. In other words, the state said it cannot be taken to task for not adding women to its panel for appointing judges since the case started as the court has not allowed it to function.
The petition was filed by Emunah, the movement for national-religious women, and the Center for Women’s Justice.
In February, the court issued a conditional order to the state demanding it explain the lack of women on the commission for appointing judges.
Current state practice “contradicts the state’s commitment, under international law, to eliminating all forms of discrimination against women,” said attorney Susan Weiss, director of CWJ. “It also contradicts the 1951 Equal Rights Law, which mandates adequate representation of women in public bodies.”
In order to balance the inherent inequality regarding appointing rabbinic judges, Weiss continued, it is not enough to settle for one female representative.
“Symbolic representation is not enough,” she insists. “This situation is a disgrace to justice in Israel and demands immediate change.”