New bill would let Knesset elect Supreme Court chief justice

Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich drafts bill which would transfer power to choose chief justice of Supreme Court to the Knesset.

Hezki Baruch ,

Israeli Supreme Court
Israeli Supreme Court
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Former Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Yamina) has submitted a new bill which, if passed, would give the Knesset authority to select the chief justice of the Israeli Supreme Court.

At present, all justices on the 15-judge court are chosen by the Judicial Selection Committee. The President of Israel then formally appoints the nominees to the court.

While most judicial appointments need only a majority in the nine-member committee, Supreme Court nominees must win the backing of seven of the nine members.

This arrangement has sparked criticism, in part given the composition of the committee, which has a majority of non-elected members. Of the nine members, three are members of the Supreme Court (including the Chief Justice), two are members of the Israeli Bar Association, with the remaining four members coming from the Israeli government and the Knesset.

Bezalel’s proposed law, mirroring a similar bill introduced by Amir Ohana (Likud) during the 20th Knesset, would remove the authority for selecting the Supreme Court chief justice from the Judicial Selection Committee and give it to the Knesset, which is currently tasked with selecting senior state officials, including the president.

The bill would also limit the chief justice’s term to five years.