Party leaders in the Netanyahu-led Israeli government announced on Sunday that they intend to bring a bill reforming Israel’s justice-appointment process to a final vote ahead of the Jewish holiday of Passover in early April.
The justice-appointment bill is part of the ruling coalition’s wider judicial-reforms package, which in recent months has divided Israeli society and triggered mass protests across the country.
Many Israelis fear that the coalition’s judicial reforms would dramatically weaken the independence of country’s court system, which acts as a check and balance to Israel’s legislative body, the Knesset.
The coalition partners – in an apparent response to widespread opposition to the judicial reforms – said they would support a modified bill based on recommendations recently submitted by Knesset Member Simcha Rothman.
According to the Rothman proposal, not all appointments to the Supreme Court would be political. Only the first two appointments would be chosen by the coalition and any additional appointments thereafter would require a broader consensus.
The Israeli government, nevertheless, confirmed on Sunday that “[what] will be submitted for approval will bring about a historic and fundamental change in the Judicial Selection Committee.”
As Israel’s parliament closes its current session in just under two weeks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political partners called “on the opposition to take advantage of the month-long recess period, during which the legislative procedures in the Knesset cannot be held, to hold real negotiations to reach an understanding regarding the articles of legislation that will be submitted for approval after the recess.”
Rothman, who is a driving force behind the judicial reforms and head of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, emphasized that “as many people as possible in Israel [need to] feel that the Supreme Court is theirs” and that it should be made possible for “the people to choose the judges.”
Many critics of the status quo argue that secular Ashkenazi (Jews of European descent) judges affiliated with the political left currently dominate Israel’s Supreme Court. Consequently, many traditional or right-wing voters, and Jews of Middle Eastern descent, do not feel represented by the Supreme Court’s current composition.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.