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      Bill: Knesset Oversight of High Court Appointments

      MKs Zeev Elkin and Yariv Levin have proposed a law that would require prospective High Court judges to be vetted by lawmakers before appointment
      By Gabe Kahn.
      First Publish: 7/13/2011, 6:17 PM / Last Update: 7/13/2011, 8:54 PM

      Likud

      Coalition chair MK Ze'ev Elkin and MK Yariv Levin proposed Wednesday a bill allowing the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee to veto Supreme Court appointments.

      The proposed bill would require every nominee for Supreme Court judgeship, and every Supreme Court judge nominated to serve as President of the Supreme Court, to appear before the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee to answer questions "about his legal and constitutional views, his personal contribution to legal thought, his views about law, justice and the necessary balance between various values and the separation of authorities."

      Any appointee vetoed by the committee would be ineligible to serve in the Supreme Court.

      Critics of Israel's current system of appointing judges say the closed-door, self-appointing, seniority-driven process allows for cronyism, back-room politics, and the monopolization of the court by monolithic ideological groups that may be out of tune with the values of mainstream Israeli society.

      "This law will break the hegemony of the radical left-wing elite in the justice system and return the sovereignty of the people and the Knesset to democratic life in Israel," Levin said.

      "Whoever vetoes laws should have to stand before the public and be chosen in a transparent and democratic process," Levin said. "This law will prevent the method in which Supreme Court judges appoint their friends to the bench, and will prevent judges with post-Zionist agendas from being appointed."

      Levin added that the bill "has a special importance because a new Supreme Court President will be chosen in the next few months. This will end the 'seniority method' that exists today."

      Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) said Wednesday that a bill proposed by his fellow party member, giving the Knesset veto power over Supreme Court justice nominations, was "dangerous".

      "MK Yariv Levin's bill is problematic and creates a clear hazard of politicizing the nomination of justices," he said.

      MK Ruhama Avraham (Kadima) said the move would prove an additional humiliation for Israel before the international community. "Netanyahu has succeeded in leading Israel to a new and unprecedented democratic, moral, and ethical low," she said.

      It is de rigueur in many democratic nations - including the United States - for nominees to national judiciary posts to be examined by lawmakers prior to appointment.