Turkel
The Turkel Committee convening, August 10, 2010. Photo by Pool
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IDF Spokesman
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Rachel Dolev Photo by IDF Spokesman

The independent public committee investigating the May 31 flotilla raid began searching for a female member on Sunday, following Thursday's ruling by the High Court of Justice.

The panel's chief, retired judge Jacob Turkel, will conduct the search with Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman and aides in the Prime Minister's Bureau.

The list of potential candidates includes Israel Defense Forces Brigadier-General (res. ) Rachel Dolev, the former chief military censor. Dolev confirmed that she had received indirect inquiries as to whether she would be interested in joining the committee. She has not offered a response yet.

Another person who has been mentioned is Professor Yaffa Zilbershats, a law professor at Bar-Ilan University. Zilbershats, who turned down an earlier offer due to her heavy workload, is unlikely to agree this time.

Irit Kahan, the former head of the State Prosecutor's Office international division, was a potential appointee, but her candidacy was invalidated because she had expressed an opinion on the flotilla raid in an interview.

However, it turns out that the committee had considered Kahan to be panel coordinator, which is a lesser role than being a committee member. Kahan confirmed this.

Over the weekend, Dr. Orna Deutch, a legal scholar and the wife of Turkel committee member Miguel Deutch, criticized the High Court for ordering the state to appoint a woman.

"The High Court decision is highly unusual and represents a step back rather than an achievement for feminist groups," Deutch said. "The campaign to name a woman to the committee took us back to the start of the last century."

"It gravely harms women's interests, the call that there be a women added to everything no matter what," Deutch said. "Any woman who is now named to the panel will be viewed not as someone who was appointed for her skills, but as someone appointed due to public pressure."

She added that some people believe the High Court yielded to the public outcry spearheaded by Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat.

Livnat told Haaretz that the High Court ruling is an important milestone in efforts to ensure equitable female representation in public committees.

"I'm certain that Dr. Deutch knows the law and the ruling," she said. "I was surprised by her remarks, and more so, I was sorry that she said such unworthy things."