Panel Opposes Arab Judge's Supreme Court Candidacy Over Meetings With 'Terror Supporters'

The judicial panel shifted its position on Judge Khaled Kabub's nomination after allegations surfaced that he met with 'people who encourage terror attacks.' Kabub, who would have been the first-ever permanent Muslim justice, denies any wrongdoing

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Judge Khaled Kabub
Judge Khaled KabubCredit: Ami Shooman
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

Several members of the Judicial Appointments Committee now oppose a Supreme Court appointment for an Arab judge who had hitherto been the leading candidate, because they recently received information about him meeting with Muslim public figures who have supported terrorists.

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Khaled Kabub had been considered almost a shoo-in thanks to Supreme Court President Esther Hayut’s backing.

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“Kabub certainly won’t get a Supreme Court appointment,” one panel member said. “But it’s also inappropriate for a judge who met with people who encourage terror attacks to serve on the district court.”

According to information received by the panel, Kabub met on August 15, 2020, with Yousef Mukhaimar, head of the Murabitun organization, and Ekrima Sabri, who heads the Supreme Muslim Council, preaches at Al-Aqsa Mosque and was formerly mufti of Jerusalem. The two presented him with a plaque honoring his father for having “lit the first candle in the march to protect the mosques and holy sites in Jaffa.”

Supreme Court president Esther HayutCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Kabub was photographed with the plaque, which bears the symbols of Mukhaimar’s and Sabri’s organizations. The event was reported on the internet news site Jaffa 48.

The march in question protested the Tel Aviv Jaffa municipality’s plan to demolish a Muslim cemetery and build a homeless shelter in its place. A Tel Aviv police source said the force had been worried by Sabri and Mukhaimar’s visit to Jaffa on that day and had monitored their activity, but nothing untoward happened.

The information given to the committee listed various incidents in which both men supported terrorists. In February 2014, for instance, after three Palestinian terrorists were released from jail, Murabitun hosted a conference to, in its own words, express “appreciation for their struggle and welcome their release.” Mukhaimar spoke at that event.

In 2013, the organization posted a statement on social media supporting Ibrahim al-Akari, who committed a car-ramming attack in Jerusalem. “Eternal life and mercy for the heroic martyrs!” it added. And in 2011, it honored the parents of Sanaa Shehadeh, who drove a suicide bomber to the scene of his attack on Jerusalem’s King George Street.

Sabri belonged to an organization that was outlawed in 2008 because it raised money for Hamas. He was also questioned by police for meeting with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. In 2017, he headed a delegation that welcomed the head of the Israeli Islamic Movement’s northern branch, Raed Salah, after his release from jail. And in 2001, during the second intifada, he publicly supported suicide bombings.

Though decisions on judicial appointments are officially made at the committee’s meetings, its members frequently talk beforehand in an effort to arrive at the final meeting with a clear decision. Former Supreme Court President Miriam Naor once told police, who were investigating a committee member, that she and other members held informal meetings and phone calls to try to reach agreements in advance.

Judge Khaled KabubCredit: Moti Milrod

During the last round of Supreme Court appointments, in February 2017, Kabub was also considered a leading candidate, but another Arab judge, George Karra, got the nod instead. Kabub responded by sending the committee a letter accusing it of “not being ready to appoint another Arab justice,” referring to the fact that the court has never had more than one at a time.

Karra is slated to retire next year and the panel is currently seeking another Arab judge to replace him.

Kabub said via the Courts Administration that his father, who died in 2006, was a member of the Dan bus cooperative, “engaged in public activity all his life and worked for his community through peaceful means.” He noted that the government had appointed his father as head of Jaffa’s waqf, a Muslim religious trust, and the plaque was awarded for his father’s work on behalf of Jaffa’s Arab community.

Kabub wasn’t familiar with the two men’s public activity, the statement continued, and he met with them only briefly, to honor his father. There were no speeches at the meeting, “and the judge didn’t even know, until he arrived at the meeting, that representatives of the media had been invited.”

“Under these circumstances, the judge didn’t see any reason to report this to anyone in the system, so he didn’t,” it added.

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