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Nine Supreme Court justices yesterday discussed one of the most complex cases to have reached their chambers in recent months: whether a 7-year-old daughter can be returned to a mother who was a drug addict. The girl had been taken from her mother and is slated for adoption.

Last August, the Tel Aviv District Court upheld a ruling by the Ramat Gan Family Court to put the girl up for adoption on the grounds that her mother is a drug addict and had also worked as a prostitute.

The mother appealed to the Supreme Court. She admitted that when her daughter was 9 months old, social welfare officials had found that her parents were unable to care for her and had taken the infant from their custody.

For the past two years, however, the mother told the court that she has refrained from using drugs, that she had returned to her family, that she had begun working regularly in a pre-school, was renting an apartment and had proven her ability to make responsible decisions.

Prosecutors have countered that adoption is in the child's best interests and that the mother is an incompetent parent.

A panel of three Supreme Court justices ruled last November that the arguments in favor adoption were not compelling and that social welfare officials should be able to help the mother rehabilitate.

The prosecutors objected to this ruling and asked for an additional hearing before an extended panel. In response, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch ordered a nine-justice panel to consider the case.

The hearing yesterday was held behind closed doors. After its completion, the mother said, "Everything is in God's hands, but I am optimistic."

The mother's attorney, Ronen Daliyahu, told Ha'aretz yesterday that a modern state is obligated to reach out and help a parent raise her own child.

"This is the policy around the world, and the State of Israel should strive to uphold it because blood ties have profound meaning."