Legal Analysis / You Haven't Come a Long Way

The government must have committed every mistake possible to spur the High Court of Justice to issue, in a show of judicial activism, an unconditional order to the government to discuss adding "at least one woman" to the five-man Turkel Committee.

The order comes after the committee has already heard testimony from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israel Defense Force Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. The prime minister and defense minister owe Justice Miriam Naor, who headed the panel that issued the order, an immediate response to her rhetorical question: "Isn't there a woman who could contribute to the committee?"

The High Court correctly rejected the state's argument against the petition filed by a coalition of women's groups to the effect that serious efforts were made to find women to serve of the investigative panel.

It's just a pity that the court gave the state two whole weeks to reconsider the issue.

In practice, the authority to appoint members of the committee rests with the prime minister and defense minister, and they can act on the matter without delay.

There are many women jurists in academia who would be appropriate, and they should not be disqualified for expressing an opinion on the flotilla issue. In essence, what the post requires, in addition to courage, is in an ability to analyze complex material and not necessarily legal or military expertise.

The High Court would not have interfered had the justices not seen that no comprehensive list of women candidates was considered when the panel was convened.

The desire to satisfy committee chairman Jacob Turkel by appointing members to his liking in all probability became an obstacle in the appointment process, and it is a shame that the panel as convened received the blessing of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who has made equal rights for women a priority.

The exclusion of women from public bodies appointed by the government or by government ministers is not just contrary to the law on equal rights for women. It is also contrary to the values of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and Justice Turkel would do well to defer his committee's deliberations until the women are appointed.