Supreme Court
Supreme Court Israel news photo: Flash 90

The State Attorney's Office asked the High Court Wednesday to reject a motion by women's groups against the Prime Minister's failure to appoint women to the Turkel Committee investigating the May 31 Gaza flotilla incident. The petitioners are Itach-Maaki, a group of Jewish and Arab female attorneys; the Israel Women's Lobby, and Power for Women. The first two are grantees of the New Israel Fund.

The State Attorney's Office said that three women with relevant expertise were approached : Prof. Ruth Lapidot, Prof. Yafa Zilbershatz and Prof. Gabriella Blum, but all three refused to serve on the committee, each for a different reason.

Prof. Lapidot rejected the committee's invitation because of failing eyesight. Prof. Zilbershatz rejected it because she was being considered as a candidate for the post of Israel's United Nations Ambassador.

In addition, the State Attorney's Office said that two other women candidates were ruled out because of statements they had made regarding the flotilla incident, which could have caused the public in Israel and abroad to harbor doubts with regard to the commission's objectivity.

Any further enlargement of the committee will make it less efficient, the Attorney's Office said. It also asked that the court reject the petitioners' request for the granting of an temporary order stopping the committee's work until a decision is handed down.

Arutz Shevareported earlier this week that radical feminist groups convinced Minister of Culture and Sports Limor Livnat to support the motion, in what appears to be an attempt by the radical Left to place a woman with extreme leftist views on the Committee, and to add to the committee's report a judicial opinion quoting women who participated in the flotilla, like MK Hanin Zouabi.

Livnat was quoted as stating, in a Power for Women event July 25, that she would sign a deposition in support of the women's groups' motion. However, she told Arutz Sheva this week that she never signed such a deposition. A source close to Livnat told Arutz Sheva she had not even been aware of the existence of Itach-Maaki until last week.