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friedmann 224.88 AJ.(Photo by: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Friedmann defends decision to hold vote for new dayanim
Friedmann said if anyone came up with an idea to change composition of Judges Election Committee, he would consider it.
Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann told the Knesset Law Committee on Tuesday that he had held a controversial meeting of the Dayanim Election Committee according to the agenda and on the date it had been scheduled, just as he held the meetings of the Judges Election Committee according to the scheduled dates and agendas. Friedmann made the statement in response to a barrage of complaints by MKs, who charged that he had done nothing to change the composition of the committee after the March 19 meeting in which 12 haredi rabbis and three national religious rabbis were elected as dayanim (religious court judges). Four groups have petitioned the High Court of Justice to cancel the election. "I held the meetings that had been scheduled by my predecessors in the job, and [only then] did I schedule additional meetings [of the Judges Election Committee,]" said Friedmann. "I don't have the deciding vote, not in the Dayanim Election Committee and not in the Judges Election Committee." Friedmann added that if anyone came up with an idea to change the composition of the Judges Election Committee, he would be willing to consider it. In response to a question about why there were no female dayanim, Friedmann said he had two fundamental problems with the religious courts. One was the fact that the dayanim were all men. But, he added, that fact had nothing to do with the composition of this or that Dayanim Election Committee. That situation, the minister said, could only be changed by law, since one of the conditions for eligibility as a dayan was that the candidate must be a rabbi, and only men can become rabbis. Friedmann added that he also opposed the fact that the rabbinical courts applied halachic law. "I am not satisfied with this," he said. "I have other opinions or at least I would say that there should be an alternative for those who want to be governed by another law." In response to criticism that he and other members of the Judges Election Committee had prevented Nava Ben-Or, former head of the Criminal Department of the State Attorney's Office, from being sworn in as a judge because she had concealed the fact that attorney Dror Hoter-Ishai had sued her, Friedmann said he was sorry she had been hurt. However, he added in a direct swipe at Israel Bar chairman Shlomo Cohen, who has sharply criticized Friedmann over the Ben-Or affair, when police opened an investigation against MK Reuven Rivlin two days before he was to be sworn in as justice minister "for reasons that somewhat amazed me, I don't remember hearing Shlomo Cohen protest."
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