The Judicial Appointments Committee / Completing the Encirclement

Legal community's right flank, which despises the judiciary, gathered its forces for one last battle.

MK Uri Ariel's election, by a single vote, to the holy of holies, the Judicial Appointments Committee, saved Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from a bitter political defeat. Ariel, whose National Union faction has Kahanist traits, completes the encirclement of the judiciary and the Supreme Court by the rightist religious camp that Netanyahu heads.

What began with handing the Justice and Public Security ministries, as well as the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, over to Avigdor Lieberman's party finished yesterday with the election of MKs David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) and Uri Ariel to the Judicial Appointments Committee. As of today, the committee has a bloc of four rightist and radical-right politicians, including Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman. All they need is a fifth member, probably one of the Israel Bar Association's two representatives, and they will have a majority on the committee and be able to do as they please. The three Supreme Court justices on the panel will become a negligible minority.

Until yesterday, Ariel's candidacy - first reported in Haaretz a week ago - was considered little more than a gimmick. But Ariel himself knew better: Not by chance did the champion of the outposts, clad eternally in sandals, arrive at the Knesset yesterday in shiny dress shoes. He knew he was not on his own; he knew Netanyahu wanted him on the committee. The legal community's right flank, which loathes the Supreme Court and despises the judiciary, gathered all its strength for a great and final battle, to conquer one last hill: the opposition's seat on the Judicial Appointments Committee.

To complete the hostile takeover of the judiciary, Netanyahu decided to trample an unwritten rule that has been in place for 25 years: The coalition always supports the largest opposition party's candidate for the opposition slot on the committee. In this case, it should have been Kadima's Roni Bar-On. But Netanyahu preferred to give the seat to a radical right-wing party that will make his life hell the minute he supports a Palestinian state - not to mention what it will do when he gives the order to dismantle populated outposts.

Ariel, along with MK Aryeh Eldad and unabashedly Kahanist MK Michael Ben Ari, will be bounding over those hills with teenage delinquents, taunting Netanyahu, the Supreme Court (which will give the eviction a green light) and the State Prosecutor's Office (which will help enforce it). And then he will put on his shiny new shoes and march to the Justice Ministry to appoint our judges.