Lawyer Becomes Israel’s First-ever Female Druze Judge

Sawsan Elkassem, until now senior deputy to National Insurance Institute’s legal adviser, was appointed to the Haifa Labor Court on Thursday

Attorney Sawsan Elkassem, 49, the first Druze woman to be appointed to Israeli judgeship, on May 10, 2018
שיר נוימן

For the first time, a Druze woman has been appointed to an Israeli judgeship.

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Attorney Sawsan Elkassem, 49, was appointed to the Haifa Labor Court on Thursday. Until now, she has been a senior deputy to the National Insurance Institute’s legal adviser.

The Judicial Appointments Committee also appointed 14 other judges to various courts at its Thursday meeting.

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But it did not approve Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s preferred candidate for the Haifa District Court, Prof. David Hahn, instead giving the slot to Judge Galit Cygler, who has already spent two years as an acting judge on the court. Committee members were particularly incensed that Hahn refused to take the screening course usually demanded of would-be judges, and though Shaked, who chairs the committee, wanted to exempt him, other committee members refused.

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Hahn, 52, lives in the West Bank settlement of Oranit and is a member of Shaked’s Habayit Hayehudi party. He was also Shaked’s preferred candidate for the Supreme Court last year, but then, too, she was unable to persuade the committee to approve his appointment. Consequently, after finishing his stint as the Justice Ministry’s official receiver and administrator general, he returned to his academic post at Bar-Ilan University.