Judicial Selection Committee Convenes After Almost 2 Years of Inactivity

By Aryeh Stern

The Judicial Selection Committee met on Tuesday, marking its first session in nearly two years to make permanent appointments. This initiative addresses the scarcity of judges, a consequence of the political deadlock surrounding the government’s contentious judicial overhaul proposal.

During the meeting, 10 judges and six acting judges were appointed to the District Courts of Haifa and Nazareth, with an additional judge assigned to the Eilat Magistrate’s Court. Further appointments for magistrates courts in these cities are scheduled for Feb. 29.

The shortage of judges has impacted the upper echelons of the Israeli judiciary, with former Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Justice Anat Baron stepping down in October upon reaching the maximum age of 70 for Israeli judges. Justice Uzi Fogelman is currently serving as the interim Court President until a permanent appointment is made.

Prior to the Gaza war, the coalition government pursued a controversial judicial reform agenda, encompassing alterations to the process of appointing and removing judges, empowering the Knesset to override specific High Court decisions, changing the appointment process for legal advisers to government ministries, and restricting judges’ application of the legal principle of reasonableness.

Proponents of the legal overhaul aimed to curtail perceived judicial overreach accumulated over the years, while opponents criticized the proposals as anti-democratic.

During the political impasse, Justice Minister Yariv Levin, the architect of the initiative, declined to convene the Judicial Selection Committee. This contributed to a nationwide shortage of judges and an increasing backlog of cases.

The implementation of the overhaul is presently on hold due to the emergency wartime government. Legislative matters unrelated to the war will be suspended, and senior appointments will be automatically extended.

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