Beinisch Won’t Budge in Supreme Court Showdown

Judge Selection C’tee convening to try to break deadlock. Four of nine members want a non-leftist justice but Beinisch’s group wants otherwise.

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Gil Ronen,

Judge Yosef Elon
Judge Yosef Elon
Israel national news photo / Flash 90

The Committee for Selection of Judges convenes Friday to try to appoint new justices to the Supreme Court, with Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch reportedly still defiantly refusing to countenance the appointment of justices who she deems unfit for the task.

As a compromise, the committee may appoint three judges as temporary justices for a six-month period.

Friday’s meeting is the committee’s third session since the appointment of its newer members following the last Knesset elections. For the first time in history, four of the committee’s nine members are solidly non-leftist: Minister Gilad Erdan, MKs David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) and Uri Ariel (National Union) and Israel Bar representative Pinchas Marinsky. A fifth, Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman, is considered right-of-center but is seen as a soft-liner who shirks from confrontations with the well-entrenched leftist elites.

The opposing camp in the committee is headed by Beinisch and includes Justices Edmond Levi and Ayala Procaccia as well as the second Israel Bar representative, Rachel Ben-Ari.   

A leftist balanced by a leftist?
Beinisch and Ne’eman have agreed upon the identity of two new appointments to the highest court: Beinisch’s preferred candidate is Tel Aviv District Court Judge Uzi Fogelman, and Ne’eman’s is Beersheba District Court Judge Yosef Elon. The two reportedly agreed to support each other’s favorites, and observers believed that they would have been able to agree upon a third candidate. Although Elon is from a religious and nationalist family -- he is the son of former Justice Menachem Elon and brother of former MK Benny Elon -- both he and Fogelman are considered to have left-of-center views.

The nationalist quartet in the committee has agreed to countenance the appointment of Elon and Fogelman but has insisted that the third judge be a non-leftist. Beinisch has adamantly opposed this, and the committee has been deadlocked. The candidates favored by the nationalists include District Judges Noam Solberg and Yishayahu Schneller, as well as Professor Dov Frimmer.

According to News1, Beinisch and Ne’eman tried to get the nationalist quartet to agree to the permanent appointment of Elon and Fogelman, and to the selection of a third, nationalist judge, as a temporary appointment. The nationalists refused. The option currently on the table is that all three judges will be appointed on a temporary basis, for six months.