As the Knesset prepares to vote on two critical appointments to the Judicial Selection Committee, which might impact the judicial reforms championed by the administration and vehemently opposed by opposition members, tensions are growing in Israel.
Currently, there is no consensus between the coalition and opposition about the Knesset Members, who represent two of the nine people on the committee that selects judges for Israel’s courts.
The coalition does not feel obligated to appoint an opposition member to the influential committee, contrary to custom, because the opposition blocked important legislation about the judicial committee, and no agreements were reached during talks between the two sides at the presidential residence.
Three Supreme Court justices, one of whom must be the chief justice, two Israel Bar Association representatives, two cabinet members, including the justice minister, and two Knesset members make up the committee.
MK Yitzhak Kroizer (Otzma Yehudit), the son of Rabbi Yehuda Kroizer, chief rabbi of Mitzpeh Yericho and dean of the Haraayon Hayehudi Yeshiva, established by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, is anticipated to be chosen by the coalition.
Despite the coalition’s refusal to support one of Yesh Atid’s MKs, Karin Elharrar, for the second slot on the committee, Yesh Atid is putting pressure on the party to make a concession and support a different opposition candidate.
According to a Channel 13 report on Tuesday, the two parties have not yet agreed on choosing the second Knesset candidate. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is debating whether to push for two coalition seats.
Yariv Levin, the justice minister who spearheaded the judicial reforms, is adamant that the coalition take the two seats allotted to it in the Knesset and has even threatened to resign if it doesn’t.
However, Netanyahu is aware that securing both positions effectively puts an end to the talks on judicial reform and instead prefers to reach an agreement that will advance some aspects of the reforms in exchange for giving the opposition a seat on the committee.
MK Avidgor Liberman, the leader of Yisrael Beytenu, forecasted on Tuesday that a compromise on the appointment would open the door to a compromise on judicial reform.
In an interview with Kan News on Tuesday morning, MK Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionist Party), one of the reform’s architects, attacked the opposition and accused National Unity chairman Benny Gantz of applying a double standard.
Rothman pointed out that after the 2020 elections, Gantz ensured the coalition agreement contained a provision requiring that the coalition provides for both Knesset’s representatives on the judicial selection committee.
“But now that we are the ones in the coalition, this is suddenly a disgrace and could lead to the breakdown of negotiations” on the judicial reforms.
“The current opposition is unwilling to cooperate, and I see no reason to include a representative, especially not someone like Lapid, who is inciting attacks on coalition members.”