Secret Lieberman, Likud Deal to Grant Right-wing Veto Power Over Judicial Appointments

Balanced gender representation produces Knesset snafu.

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Ayelet Shaked.
Ayelet Shaked.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

A secret deal between Likud and Yisrael Beitenu has been revealed: Representatives of the ruling party and associates of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed with Yisrael Beitenu chairman MK Avigdor Lieberman to support a member of his faction, MK Robert Ilatov, in the election for membership on the Judicial Selection Committee. In return, Yisrael Beitenu’s six members would vote in the secret ballot for the Likud candidate, MK Nurit Koren.

The ruling party has traditionally supported the representative of the main opposition faction to become a member of the committee. The opposition (aside from Yisrael Beitenu) has yet to decide upon a candidate. Among the names being mentioned are opposition chairman Isaac Herzog, who currently serves as one of the two Knesset representatives on the committee, former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Merav Michaeli, Ofer Shelah and Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin.

The Judicial Selection Committee has nine members including two government representatives, two Knesset representatives, two Israel Bar Association representatives, two Supreme Court justices and the Supreme Court president. A decision by the committee on a candidate must win the support of seven out of its nine members. If the deal works and Ilatov will be elected, the right-wing will effectively have veto power on the appointment of Supreme Court judges.

Coalition sources expressed hope that if the move works out, it will help bring Lieberman closer to Netanyahu’s coalition, which has had difficulty functioning in the Knesset.

The Knesset will next week on Wednesday select at least one female MK to represent the legislature on the Judicial Selection Committee, marking the first time the election will be held in accordance with the law mandating appropriate representation of women on the committee. Registration concluded Wednesday, and Koren is expected to be the Likud candidate.

By law, at least one of the representatives sent to the committee by each body must be a woman, so that at least four women will serve on the committee. The government’s representatives on the committee are expected to be Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked – who serves on the committee as part of her job – and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who sought the position during the coalition negotiations.

The bill on women’s representation in the Judicial Selection Committee was promoted by MK Aliza Lavie of Yesh Atid and MK Zahava Galon of Meretz.

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