After losing the judicial selection committee vote on Wednesday, Israel’s coalition leaders are wallowing in their defeat and blaming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu for appointing opposition MK Karin Elharar to the influential committee that manages the selection of judges at all levels of the country’s judicial system.
Right-wing groups have even called for protests against Netanyahu, who is thought to be obstructing efforts to undertake significant systemic reforms.
The coalition was divided on whether to break with convention and nominate two of its own members to the committee, bucking the traditional practice of having a coalition member and an opponent on the committee.
The new action would have put a halt to the discussions for judicial changes, but supporters claim they would proceed without resistance.
Netanyahu and other Likud leaders, however, advocated for the unanimous adoption of some measures that would be acceptable to all parties in exchange for including an opposition representative on the committee.
In the end, every member of the coalition who had been nominated to serve on the committee, with the exception of Tali Gottlieb, a Likud MK, withdrew their nominations.
Only Elharar was elected to the committee because the coalition was fragmented and the opposition was unified, dealing a fatal blow to the coalition’s electoral prospects and capacity to forward its legislative program.
Given that Netanyahu is now focused on other matters, like Iran and his own legal troubles, he may have favored this result since he did not need more large-scale demonstrations if the coalition decided against giving the opposition a seat on the committee.
Senior Likud officials, meanwhile, called it the “worst fiasco since 1977 [the year the Likud first came to power]” and charged the prime minister with undermining the coalition to further his personal political objectives.
The ministers will now try to exert pressure on the prime minister to carry out the changes to the judicial selection committee that Justice Minister Levin proposed and the Knesset authorized for final reading during the spring session.
Whether the coalition can rally its dispersed ranks to vote as one for the changes or if they will once again be hindered by infighting and uncertainty will determine if they are successful.