Attorney Amit Becher won Tuesday’s Israel Bar Association election, it emerged on Wednesday evening.
Becher, an outspoken opponent of the government’s judicial program, has served as interim Bar Association chairman since March and will now hold the post on a permanent basis. He defeated former chairman Efi Nave by a wide margin, 73% to 19%, in the election.
Around 60% of the 77,000 active, dues-paying Israeli attorneys voted, up from the usual 30% turnout in a race dominated its impact on the Judicial Selection Committee, responsible for appointing judges at all levels of Israel’s civil court system.
The government’s reform program calls for removing the two Bar Association representatives from the Judicial Selection Committee.
Bar Association members also cast ballots for the 44-member National Council, the association’s executive body. The National Council chooses the association’s representatives on the Judicial Selection Committee.
The Bar Association chairman also has a seat on the National Council.
The Judicial Selection Committee had become a major sticking point in negotiations over the coalition’s judicial reform program.
Reformists say the three Supreme Court justices on the committee (chosen by the president of the court) have veto power over appointments as they can count on the automatic support of the two Bar Association representatives, giving them a five-vote bloc on the nine-member committee.
Five votes are enough to appoint judges to all the civil courts except the Supreme Court, which requires the support of seven committee members.
The committee consists of two Cabinet members (one of them the justice minister); three Supreme Court justices; two members of Knesset; and the two members of the Bar Association.