The Knesset is to vote on Monday, by secret ballot, for the eighth state comptroller. The outgoing one, Micha Lindenstrauss, will complete seven busy and fruitful wyears at the post in July.
The race for the new position has taken place against the backdrop of the ruling establishment's attitude that despite a grating style that sometimes detracted from his strength, Lindenstrauss was only too successful.
The two main contenders are judges - Eliezer Rivlin, who is retiring at the end of the month from the Supreme Court, and Jerusalem District Court Judge Joseph Shapira.
It is believed that Shapira has a broad coalition of Knesset members supporting him. Considering the great differences between him and Rivlin, justification for this support cannot be made effortlessly.
While Rivlin has 36 years of experience on the bench, including 13 years with the Supreme Court, Shapira has only nine years as a district court judge. Rivlin is considered an expert in civil law, particularly in damages. He is responsible for a number of significant rulings involving freedom of speech, including a petition by the journalist Ilana Dayan against the verdict of the Jerusalem District Court that she had libeled an Israel Defense Forces officer. He was also responsible for the "lost years" ruling - by which a claim for compensation can be made for loss of income a deceased individual could have earned in his or her lifetime.
Shapira, who has dealt mainly with civil and commercial cases on the district court level, is perceived as a liberal judge. He awarded compensation of more than NIS 1.5 million to the family of a Palestinian killed by a rubber bullet fired by a Border Policeman. He also ordered the Karta parking garage in Jerusalem opened on the Sabbath. Known as a pleasant, easy-going person, he is also close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's personal attorney, David Shimron, and to Kadima MK Roni Bar-On.
However, a network of acquaintances is not essential to the position; on the contrary, the state comptroller should do his work without prejudice, without extraneous considerations, and most importantly be independent in his decision-making.
Although Shapira is not an invalid choice, it seems Rivlin, vice-president of the Supreme Court, who gave up his right to be court president - albeit only for three months - is more suitable for the post.
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