The Knesset's Judicial Selection Committee approved Justice Asher Grunis as the new Supreme Court President on Friday, after the veteran judge stood at heart of a months-long political storm.

Seven of the committee's nine members supported the nomination, with MK David Rotem abstaining. The panel's ninth member is Grunis himself, who did not vote.

Grunis' path to the Supreme Court presidency was assured last month after the Knesset plenum passed in second and third reading the so-called "Grunis bill."

The Grunis bill, sponsored by MK Yaakov Katz (National Union), removed the restriction preventing Supreme Court justices who have less than three years on the bench before retirement from being appointed court president.

The restriction was written into a law promoted by the previous justice minister, Daniel Friedmann. Grunis will have less than three years left to serve on the bench when Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch retires.

Opposition MKs slammed the bill and opposition, with Kadima chairperson MK Tzipi Livni saying it was part of the coalition's conspiracy to undermine Israel's democracy and belittle the Supreme Court.

The bill was blasted by the opposition for being personally tailored for Grunis, to enable him to be appointed to the lofty post rather than other candidates in line for it. Had this legislation not been enacted, Justice Miriam Naor would have been appointed next Supreme Court president. Now she is expected to get the job only after Grunis retires.

Environmental Protection Minsiter Gilad Erdan congratulated Grunis on his appointment, saying that he was "an excellent judge" and that his selection was "worthy."

"I'm sure president Grunis will maintain the defense of civil rights and the prevention of injury against civilians, especially minorities, while leading a Supreme Court policy of self restraint out of a conception that not everything should be brought before the court and that there are things the public decides once every four years when it elects a government," Erdan said.

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