No Deal, 3 Supreme Court Seats Vacant

C'tee for Appointing Judges fails to reach agreement in stormy session. Supreme Court President Beinisch refuses to accept Judge Solberg.

Tags: Solberg
Gil Ronen ,

Judge Solberg
Judge Solberg
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Committee for Appointment of Judges convened in Jerusalem Sunday afternoon in a stormy showdown between leftist forces led by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and centrist-nationalists, as three vacant Supreme Court positions wait to be manned. The meeting ended at around 8:00 p.m. with no agreement having been reached. The next sessions will be held in January and February.

Beinisch reportedly said in the discussion that she has "no problem" with Judge Noam Solberg's appointment but that in the present atmosphere it is impossible to select judges. The selection process has become too political and charged and decisions cannot be reached, she said.

Beinisch is due to retire in February but is reportedly fighting with all her might to prevent the court from changing its ultra-leftist hue. Through leaks to the press provided by "sources close to Beinisch," she has come out publicly against the appointment of Judge Solberg, who is a resident of Gush Etzion – on the "wrong side" of the 1949 Armistice Line -- and thus considered by leftists to be an "ideological criminal."

According to leaks from last week, the nationalist-centrists and the Beinisch camp had been discussing a deal that would include Solberg's appointment, alongside Judge Tzvi Zilbertal, whose political leanings match Beinisch's, and Judge Devorah Berliner, who is considered a compromise candidate.

Beinisch wants former attorney general Menachem Mazuz appointed instead of Solberg, Sunday's leaks said.

In the early evening new leaks said that she would, after all, agree to the appointment of Solberg and one of the more left-wing candidates, while the third spot might be left vacant so that a Sephardic judge can be found to fill it. All the other judges are Ashkenazi Jews. 

However, by evening it turned out that there was, after all, no deal.

The Committee for Appointment of Judges needs a majority of 7 out of its 9 members to appoint Supreme Court judges. Since neither political camp has such a majority, deals need to be struck between them.