Judge Poised to Become the First Muslim Arab on Israel's Supreme Court

Khaled Kabub is one candidate on the list published by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. Half of the candidates are religiously observant, and only one quarter are women

Judge Khaled Kabub.
Ofer Vaknin

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has published the list of candidates for the two Supreme Court seats being vacated. A committee will be selecting from the list at its next meeting, on February 22, to replace Justices Yoram Danziger and Uri Shoham, who are retiring this year.

One of the candidates is Khaled Kabub of the Tel Aviv Economic Affairs District Court. (Traditionally the Supreme Court has had an Arab on the bench.) In the last Supreme Court race, Kabub lost the Arab seat to George Kara, mainly because the justices on the selection committee recoiled from Kabubs close relationship with the Israel Bar Association, whose conferences he reliably attends.

Reportedly Kabub had been hurt by the bars failure to support his candidacy the last time around, though it had supported Yosef Elron, for example. This time around, the two bar representatives on the selection committee, Effi Naveh and Ilana Seker, are pushing for Kabub, even if it means forgoing the seat designated for a private-sector lawyer because of Danzigers retirement.

If Kabub wins this race, he will be the first Muslim to sit on the Israeli bench; all previously sitting Arab justices, including Kara, have been Christian.

Shaked's list has some new names added to those proposed last year. Most of the 20 names on the list are judges who preside at district courts, though none are from the Beer Sheva or Nazareth courts. Three are academics and the rest are private-sector lawyers. Half the candidates are religiously observant. A quarter are women.

ther people on the list considered to have good chances of appointment include Tel Aviv District Court Judge Shaul Shohat, 62, who is supported by a majority of the committee members because of his nearly 20 years of expertise in family law, where he has shown a formalistic, conservative bent, and because of his Mizrahi origin. A book written by Supreme Court-watching journalist Naomi Levitzky says Shohat used to be a Likud activist.

Another judge considered to have good chances is Ofer Grosskopf of the Lod District Court, who has sat on a lot of class action cases and has demonstrated a social agenda. Coming to the bench from a career in academics, Grosskopf is considered to be a protg of conservative former Justice Minister Prof. Daniel Friedman. One disadvantage is that at 48, he is considered young for the highest bench.