Judge Yosef Shapira was elected on Monday evening to serve as Israel’s next State Comptroller, following three rounds of voting in the Knesset. Shapira received 68 votes from MKs as opposed to the 40 received by Supreme Court Justice Eliezer Rivlin. Drama surrounded Shapira’s election, as despite being the favorite candidate, he failed to receive the required 61 votes in the first two rounds of voting. Shapira, born in 1945, currently a judge in the Jerusalem District Court, will assume the role of State Comptroller on July 4, and will hold the position for seven years.
At the end of the first round of voting, the count of the ballot revealed that Shapira received 58 votes, Rivlin received 44, and Shlomo Calderon 10. A second round of voting was called, with Shapira receiving 59 votes, Rivlin 45, and Calderon 2.
Shapira’s candidacy was endorsed by a group of MKs hailing from both Kadima and Likud, including the party coalition chairpersons Zeev Elkin (Likud) and Dalia Itzik (Kadima), as well as MKs Yariv Levin (Likud) and Roni Bar-On (Kadima). Early on, the group received support from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni, then head of Kadima. Shapira’s candidacy was endorsed by 70 MK’s, although some had their names erased from the list after it was revealed that they supported more than one candidate.
Between the two, Rivlin was considered the senior judge, with a more impressive record. Rivlin, however, received the support of only 11 MKs – one over the minimum required by law to declare candidacy. Over the last few days, Rivlin presented his professional record to many MKs, and apparently won himself many supporters.
Last week it seemed as if the decision had already been made, as 60 MKs declared support for Shapira, as opposed to 11 publicly declaring support for Rivlin. Over the last few days however, the race seemed to come back to life, as many Kadima and Likud MK’s expressed reservations over Shapira’s relatively low-level position and political standing, which could lead diminish the State Comptroller’s Office, possibly even rendering it ineffective.
MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union) responded to Shapira’s election. “Again it has been proven that it is possible to block the superiority of the supreme court, and put them in their place. Shapira is not right-wing, but Rivlin and his friends need to learn that the air of supremacy adopted by some members of the Supreme Court is collapsing again,” said Ben Ari.
Kadima Party coalition chairwoman Dalia Itzik also responded. “I congratulate Judge Yosef Shapira on his election to the position of State Comptroller. It is a role of utmost importance in a functioning democracy, and I am sure that Shapira will be dedicated and unbiased in fulfilling his new position,” said Itzik.
Meretz chairperson MK Zahava Gal-On Israel’s unity government, from which Shapira drew many of his supporters. “I am sorry for him [Shapira] that he was forced to witness the farce of three rounds of voting, by the generosity of the Mofaz-Netanyahu coalition. It is a morally broken coalition, and the ridiculous proceedings here today proved that it is politically broken as well,” said Gal-On.
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