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Otzma Yehudit’s Kroyzer elected to sit on key judicial panel

The Judicial Selection Committee is responsible for appointing judges at all levels of Israel’s civil court system.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a discussion and a vote in the Knesset assembly hall, on May 15, 2023. Photo by Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a discussion and a vote in the Knesset assembly hall, on May 15, 2023. Photo by Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90.

Israel’s Knesset on Wednesday elected Otzma Yehudit lawmaker Yitzhak Kroyzer to the nine-member Judicial Selection Committee, responsible for appointing judges at all levels of Israel’s civil court system.

As part of their coalition agreement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised the spot on the committee to Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit Party.

In June, Yesh Atid lawmaker Karine Elharrar was voted into the Judicial Selection Committee, satisfying a key opposition demand during negotiations over the government’s reform package.

At the same time, the coalition voted down the candidacy of Likud Party MK Tali Gottlieb, who had defied Netanyahu by refusing to bow out of the race.

That set off intense political maneuvering, as the composition of the panel has become a major sticking point in negotiations over the reform initiative.

Traditionally, one coalition candidate and one opposition candidate are chosen to fill the seats reserved for parliamentarians. Coalition hardliners had preferred not to appoint a committee member from the opposition, favoring two members from the coalition. Opposition members had threatened to call off negotiations if their candidate was approved.

Immediately following June’s vote, opposition leader Yair Lapid nevertheless put the reform negotiations on hold.

Negotiations to reach a consensus were launched in March under the auspices of President Isaac Herzog after Netanyahu vowed to postpone the controversial judicial reform legislation in order to give dialogue a chance.

On Tuesday, police arrested 71 persons who participated in protests and violated public order as thousands of reform opponents blocked highways and interchanges across the country after the Knesset voted to advance related legislation.

The “Day of Resistance” saw marches, demonstrations and convoys to highways in and around Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, the Binyamin region, and Ben-Gurion Airport. Demonstrations were also held outside the President’s Residence in Jerusalem and the U.S. Embassy branch in Tel Aviv.

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee convened on Tuesday to prepare for the second and third plenum votes a bill to restrict the use of the “reasonableness” standard by the Supreme Court. This comes after the parliament overnight Monday passed the bill in first reading.

The legislation would bar “reasonableness” as a legal justification for judges to reverse decisions made by the Cabinet, ministers and “other elected officials as set by law.”

The bill’s proponents say the standard is legally vague and has been used by the Supreme Court to encroach upon the government’s authority. Opponents say the bill will erode Israel’s system of checks and balances and lead to an abuse of power.

The goal of the coalition is to pass the bill before the end of the summer session on July 29.

The initiative “isn’t the end of democracy, but rather will strengthen democracy,” Netanyahu said on Monday in defense of the legislation.

“The rights of the courts and Israeli citizens will not be harmed in any way. The court will continue to monitor the legality of government decisions and appointments. [We] will be required to act in good faith and with proportionality, fairness and equality,” he added.

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