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The Judicial Appointments Committee on Friday chose the first Arab judge to ever serve on the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court. Abbas A'asi is also the first Arab to be appointed a judge at any court in the capital since Awni Habash, who retired from the district court in December. Habash had served for more than 20 years.

A'asi, who is being promoted from his post as Jerusalem Magistrate's Court registrar, will be the only Arab judge in the city, even though a third of the population is Arab.

"There's now not a single Arab judge in Jerusalem - not in the magistrate's court, not in the district court and not in the employment tribunal. There's only Judge Salim Joubran at the Supreme Court," Habash said in December. "And why? I've told every justice minister who has visited this court about the need to appoint Arab judges in Jerusalem. They all agreed, and none of them did anything about it. God knows why."

Newly appointed A'asi, 38, studied at Tira High School and graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1994 with degrees in law, economics and accounting. He worked as a lawyer for nearly a decade before being appointed Jerusalem Magistrate's Court registrar in 2003.

On Friday, the Judicial Appointments Committee appointed 23 new judges to the employment tribunals and to magistrate's and district courts.

Notable appointments include Kfar Sava Magistrate's Court Judge Rami Amir being appointed to the Petah Tikva Central District Court. Amir is considered one of the busiest and outstanding judges in civil cases; he is known as a "case slasher" for quickly getting through proceedings.

Judge Aryeh Romanov was appointed to the Jerusalem District Court, and Haifa Magistrate's Court Judge Amir Toubi was promoted to that city's district court.

Supreme Court Registrar Geula Levin was appointed to family court in the south, and attorney Dana Cohen-Lekach, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch's aide, was appointed Supreme Court registrar.

Some members of the committee protested that Cohen-Lekach was the only candidate for the job, leaving them with the choice of appointing her or leaving the position vacant.