Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Likud center
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Likud center on February 2, 2010. Photo by Alon Ron
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The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved for second and third reading on Monday a bill seeking to change the makeup of the judges' appointment committee.

However, following sharp criticism voiced by some Likud ministers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided further discussions will be held on the matter.

The bill is intended to strengthen the weight of Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman in the committee. It states that the two Israel Bar Association members of the committee will be elected by a two-thirds majority of the members of the association's national council. This means that instead of two representatives of the Bar Association's coalition on the committee, one member of the coalition and one member of the opposition will be appointed.

If the bill passes in its current form, it would annul the elections held by the Bar Association's national council last month. The two delegates that were elected are Rachel Ben Ari and Khaled Husseini Zuabi. Both are seen as allies of Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch.

Sigal Kogut, the Knesset's deputy legal advisor and the committee's legal counsel, has said that the bill bears the signs of being retroactive, arbitrary and personal, and is constitutionally flawed and indefensibly disproportional.

Ministers Gideon Sa’ar, Dan Meridor, Limor Livnat and Benny Begin protested the bill's approval on Monday. MK Danny Danon defended the bill, saying that "this is not the first time Likud ministers back down because of pressure from the media." He added that "we were elected to govern, not to back down."