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Neeman Accused of Pulling Out All Stops to Put His Man on Bench

'For him, the end justifies the means, even with trickery,' said attorney Rachel Ben Ari, one of the IBA's two representatives in the Judicial Appointments Committee.

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman "wants Noam Sohlberg in the Supreme Court as part of his agenda," a senior member of the Israel Bar Association said on Monday, adding that he would do whatever it takes to get his man on the bench.

"For him, the end justifies the means, even with trickery," said attorney Rachel Ben Ari, one of the IBA's two representatives in the Judicial Appointments Committee.

Neeman's eagerness to appoint Sohlberg, a Jerusalem District Court judge, "is part of his attempt to change the Supreme Court and undermine its status and many of its achievements. I feel it's a clear statement of 'I'm bringing Sohlberg into the Supreme Court and there's nothing you can do about it,'" she said.

The appointment is important to Neeman because it would prove to his supporters that he had "delivered the goods. He has an agenda and this appointment serves it," said Ben Ari.

She added that Neeman was lobbying for changes regarding internal IBA procedures, in a bid to influence the composition of the Judicial Appointments Committee, in order "to bring about Sohlberg's appointment," she said.

"Every step he made in recent months, including this week in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, shows his fervor to reach this goal and if anything looks like it could sabotage his end he brings alternative ways," she said.

On Monday, Ben Ari sent Neeman another demand to put off the committee's meeting, scheduled for November 20. She demanded that all the names of the candidates for the Supreme Court be published in one list, as required by law. This has not been done so far.

Neeman has refrained from releasing an updated list of names. Instead he has referred people to the list published in the years 2007-2009, which includes names of judges who have retired, judges who have removed their candidacy and candidates who have already been appointed to the Supreme Court.

"Neeman is trying to neutralize pressure, to ensure the appointment process is quiet. This way he could pass the deal with no objections. It is natural to have a discussion about the candidates to the Supreme Court. One should not be afraid of different opinions. I think it's important to open the list to additional candidates, including Mizrahi ones. The process must be kept egalitarian, transparent and democratic," she said.