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Not an apartheid state: Israel appoints its first-ever Muslim justice to the Supreme Court 

Israel’s Supreme Court adds four new judges to its ranks; Appointments reflect variety of opinions, genders and ethnic backgrounds, says Justice Minister Sa’ar

Khaled Kabub (Spokesperson of the Judiciary of Israel)

Four new justices were appointed on Monday to Israel’s Supreme Court, including the first ever Arab-Muslim Judge Khaled Kabub. All previous Israeli-Arab justices to serve in the high position have been Christians.

The 63-year-old was born in Jaffa. He served as vice president of the Tel Aviv District Court since 2017 and prior to that was appointed as a judge in the Netanya magistrate court in 1997, moving up to the Tel Aviv District Court in 2003.

Kabub’s selection is contradictory to claims that Israel is subjecting Palestinians to a system of apartheid, as asserted in a recent Amnesty International report. Last month, the Israeli Judicial Selection Committee appointed six Arab judges and jurists to prominent positions in district courts across the country, half of whom are women. Osila Abu Assad from Nazareth became the first female Arab-Muslim judge appointed to an Israeli district court. 

The three additional judges that will serve along with Kabub in the 15-member high court are Judge Ruth Ronen, Judge Gila Kanfei-Steinitz and private sector lawyer Yechiel Kasher. 

“The Judicial Selection Committee bears heavy responsibility in selecting Israeli judges in general and in shaping the image of the Supreme Court in particular,” said Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar, who heads the selection committee and who brought forth the four as candidates. “The four new justices elected to the Supreme Court are excellent. Their selection reflects the right choice according to the three metrics that I have set: excellence, balance and diversity."

“This composition is diverse as it is balanced in terms of legal perceptions and reflects our diverse social mosaic,” he added.

Both Sa’ar and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who took part in the selection process ,are facing backlash from Israel’s right-wing opposition for approving “an unbalanced composition of new judges.” 

Sa’ar is a former Likud party member who founded New Hope, his own right-wing party, to run against Benjamin Netanyahu. Shaked is No. 2 in Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s right-wing party, Yamina. She served as justice minister between 2015 and 2019 and vowed repeatedly to bring more conservative judges to the court. Once the opportunity presented itself, however, she did not follow through, nor did she threaten to dissolve the Israeli coalition over her opposition to the appointments. 

"It's no secret that I wanted to appoint other judges during today’s meeting,” she said. 

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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