After months of delays

Levin to convene Judicial Selection Committee

"...This is the right step for this time.""

Justice Minister Yariv Levin. Photo: Chaim Goldberg/ Flash90
Justice Minister Yariv Levin. Photo: Chaim Goldberg/ Flash90

(TIMES OF ISRAEL) – Israel’s Justice Minister Yariv Levin told the High Court of Justice on Sunday that he would convene the Judicial Selection Committee, after months of refusing to do so as part of the government’s judicial overhaul agenda.

Attorneys representing Levin in legal proceedings against him in the High Court said in a court filing that the minister will convene the committee within 15 days “to avoid conflict” during a time of war, and will propose new judges about whom there is “broad consensus”.

Levin had been refusing to convene the committee due to his stated desire to change the composition of the panel to give the government control over appointments.

This stance prompted petitions to the High Court requesting that Levin be ordered to convene the committee, with a hearing on the petitions scheduled for November 12. Sunday was the deadline for filing responses to those petitions.

“The Justice Minister is of the opinion that during a time of war there is no place to deal with matters of dispute, including the issue of appointing judges,” Levin’s private counsel wrote to the court, in reference to the upcoming hearing.

“In order to avoid dispute, the minister will convene the Judicial Selection Committee within 15 days, and commits at this time to bringing before the committee decisions over which there is broad consensus,” the brief statement concluded.

A spokesperson for Levin said that this meant he would aim for judicial appointments that could be made with a broad consensus on the committee.

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel, one of the petitioners against Levin in the High Court, expressed scepticism of Levin’s announcement, saying it could be a tactic to delay the hearing, while Labor MK Gilad Kariv said Levin “is not committing to appoint judges” and his statement was framed in a way that could enable the minister to avoid making appointments.

The announcement comes days after Levin and Supreme Court acting president Uzi Vogelman agreed to appoint 14 temporary judges to several courts due to a shortage on the benches.

National Unity leader Benny Gantz, a fierce opponent of Levin’s judicial overhaul but currently a senior member of the emergency government conducting the war against Hamas, welcomed the justice minister’s statement.

“Justice Minister Yariv Levin has made a correct and statesmanlike decision to convene the Judicial Selection Committee. This is the right step for this time.”

There are currently over 20 unfilled positions on courts around the country, which will rise to 53 by the end of the year.


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