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Truce in spat between Israeli justice minister against High Court and attorney general? ‘I will convene judicial selection committee within 15 days,’ Levin says

Both sides recognized the need for setting aside differences during the war

Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Justice Minister Yariv Levin attend the opening of the Magistrate's Court in the northern Israeli city of Tzfat, Sept. 27, 2023. (Photo: David Cohen/Flash90)

With the start of Israel's winter Knesset session after the holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, the coalition government was expected to begin its fight against Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara’s office in earnest. 

Levin was also expected to drag out the selection of another representative to the Judicial Selection Committee, and the appointment of a new Supreme Court president, while the coalition attempted to reshape the political situation to their liking. 

What neither side was expecting, was the Hamas invasion on Oct. 7, which quickly made it apparent to both sides, that political power games were off the table while the nation gears up for war. 

Attorney General Baharav-Miara set up a “war room” to begin managing the immense number of international “lawfare” that is expected to be waged against Israel in courts around the world. 

She also began immediately assisting the government and the military with legal counsel regarding decisions related to the conflict. 

One of the decisions that Baharav-Miara approved was the decision to cut off the water and electricity supply to Gaza. 

She also approved the suspension of the typical “roof-knock” procedure when targeting Hamas leaders, so they would not have a chance to escape, even though it has meant an increase of civilian casualties in Gaza. 

Meanwhile, after months of refusing to convene the Judicial Selection Committee during the judicial reform debates, Justice Minister Yariv Levin announced Sunday that he will convene the committee within 15 days. 

In a statement to the High Court of Justice, Levin wrote that he "believes that in times of war, there is no place to deal with controversial issues, including the issue of procedures for appointing judges. Accordingly, the minister will convene the committee within 15 days and bring before the committee decisions on which there is broad agreement.” 

One of the most pressing issues for the Judicial Selection Committee is the selection of new judges. However, the committee is still lacking one representative from the Knesset, and also needs to choose a new Supreme Court president. 

National Unity party leader Benny Gantz said that Levin made the “correct decision."

“Justice Minister Levin made a state and correct decision to convene the committee for the selection of judges. This is the necessary step at this time.” 

Opposition leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party said, “Especially in these difficult times, we need a strong judiciary and a strong democracy. This is the time to convene the Judicial Appointments Committee, appoint judges and strengthen the judicial system.” 

Levin, Baharav-Miara and a team from the state prosecutor’s office, Shin Bet security services and the Israel Border Police established a group to handle the evidence and material being gathered against Hamas since the Oct. 7 invasion and brutal attack.

The team is tasked with translating the material for both military use, and for use in fighting the “public opinion” war being waged in the news media and social media.  

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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