Israeli Supreme Court Justice Neal Hendel Tapped to Lead Elections Committee

Outgoing Central Elections Committee head Hanan Melcer recommended last month that whoever fills his shoes 'will be brave and take into account that he will not be popular'

Supreme Court Justice Neal Hendel at Bar Ilan University, January 20, 2016.
David Bachar

Supreme Court Justice Neal Hendel will lead the Central Elections Committee for the next Knesset, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut told Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein Sunday. Hayut wrote that Hendel was chosen by the other justices, and that Justice Uzi Vogelman will take his place on the Supreme Court.

Hayut had recommended that Hendel replace Justice Hanan Melcer in the role, and he accepted. According to a prior agreement, Vogelman was supposed to lead the committee, but after Hendel gained experience as an alternate in the role over the two previous elections, he was offered the position. The Central Elections Committee will begin its activity this week, if no agreement on a prime ministerial candidate is reached and the 22nd Knesset dissolves itself.

Melcer was the first-ever committee head to oversee two national elections, in April and September, in addition to last year's mayoral elections. The committee, under his leadership, fielded accusations of harming the integrity of the vote, some of which hurled by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party.

Melcer clashed with Netanyahu once again when he ruled that the prime minister violated campaign law when he published poll results after the permitted date, and even caused the deactivation of Netanyahu's Facebook bot. Last month, Melcer said "If there is another round of elections, there is no way I'm taking it upon myself. I recommend that whoever takes it upon himself will be brave and take into account that he will not be popular."