Centrist MKs Dueling Rightists for Spots on Panel That Appoints Judges

Two MKs from Yesh Atid and Zionist Union parties to compete with two right-wing lawmakers nominated by Netanyahu coalition for spots on important committee.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah.
Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The Knesset opposition on Tuesday nominated two MKs from the centrist Yesh Atid and Zionist Union parties to compete with the two right-wingers nominated by the coalition for spots on the committee that appoints judges. The full Knesset will choose its representatives on the panel in a vote this afternoon.

The opposition agreed to support MKs Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) and Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Union). The two are expected to be facing a deal reached between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the head of Yisrael Beiteinu, MK Avigdor Lieberman, in which a member of the opposition from Yisrael Beiteinu, MK Robert Ilatov, will be proposed along with an MK from the coalition, Nurit Koren (Likud), for the two MK’s spots on the panel.

The opposition went for the two candidates with the best chances of winning Knesset support, said sources involved in the deal. The opposition expects to woo a number of votes of coalition MKs because the voting is anonymous. MKs from Kulanu and the Haredi parties may decide not to support Netanyahu’s deal, and not vote for Ilatov, who is considered both hardline right-wing and anti-Haredi. Also, the opposition hopes Shelah will garner votes from Kulanu and Habayit Hayehudi, even though he will have a difficult time winning Haredi votes because of the long-standing conflict between Yesh Atid and the Haredi parties..

The judicial appointments committee has nine members, including two from the cabinet, two MKs, two from the Israel Bar Association, two Supreme Court justices plus the Supreme Court president.

There is now a bill before the Knesset to require at least four women on the committee, including at least one from every body represented on the panel.

The cabinet representatives will be Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), automatically a member due to her position, and possibly Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who demanded the post as part of the negotiations over forming the government.

The opposition plans on running MK Revital Swid (Zionist Union) for the committee that appoints Jewish religious court judges (dayanim). MK Nava Boker (Likud) and MK Israel Eichler (United Torah Judaism) are expected to be the coalition’s picks for this panel. Eichler’s position seems guaranteed, as no male MK from the opposition offered his candidacy for the committee.

The law was changed in the previous Knesset so that one male MK and one female MK must be chosen for the two committees that appoint judges and dayanim.

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