Political fight holds up rabbinic court appointees

Appointment committee meeting canceled after Chief Rabbis refuse to attend. Shas demands Sephardi majority on Supreme Court.

Hezki Baruch ,

Appointment committee members
Appointment committee members
Shlomi Cohen/Flash 90

The committee to appoint religious judges has canceled its meeting scheduled for Wednesday, following demands by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) and Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef. The pair insisted that the majority of appointees be Sephardi.

The committee was expected to meet at 1:30 p.m., but the Chief Rabbis (both Sephardi and Ashkenazi) announced that they would not attend due to the failure to come to an agreement. Committee head Yuval Steinitz (Likud) then canceled the meeting altogether.

Each candidate for the Supreme Rabbinical Court's six available seats needs eight supporters from among the ten-person committee in order to be selected.

The past few day have seen intensive negotiations between Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) on one side, and the Shas party and Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef on the other, over the makeup of the appointees.

The Supreme Court recently informed the Supreme Rabbinical Court that its temporary assignments will end on July 15 unless permanent appointees are named. Should the deadline be reached without a settlement, the Supreme Rabbinical Court would be made up of only three judges: Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, Rabbi David Lau and Rabbi Eliezer Igra, who received his permanent appointment last month.

The rabbinical organization Tzohar says: "The Likud and the haredi factions have abandoned the discourse in the courts. The committee cancellation means that all hearings in the Supreme Court are halted and that justice will be delayed for many people."

"National Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz could lead a revolution and recommend judges that are connected to the current Israeli reality, but instead he chose to surrender to political pressures from the haredi sector. We hope that Minister Steinitz and the Likud come to their senses and lead the revolution along with Minister Shaked and the other committee members for the sake of the Israeli public."