The petitions to compel Minister of Justice Yariv Levin to convene the judicial appointments committee are nearing a decision by the High Court of Justice. Changing the composition of the committee is the centerpiece of Levin’s planned overhaul of the legal system in Israel, and he has refrained from convening it in its existing format. This morning, following the submission of arguments by both sides, the court ordered Levin to justify his failure to convene the committee. The hearing, before justices Anat Baron, David Mintz, and Yael Willner, is set for this Tuesday, September 19 at 10:00, and it will be broadcast live.
Today’s ruling means that, after receiving the arguments of both sides, the court was persuaded that the government and Levin had to justify their decision. It also means a shortening of the proceedings. In Tuesday’s hearing, the government side will speak first, since the burden of justifying its position has been transferred to it.
After today’s decision was announced, Levin asked the court to cancel it, arguing that it did not have the power to determine what should be contained in the response to the petitions. The court has referred Levin’s request to the other side for a response by 9:00 am on September 18, that is the day before the date set for hearing the petitions.
In the petitions filed by The Movement for Quality Government in Israel, the Yesh Atid Party, and a group of businesspeople, it is claimed that Levin is obliged to exercise his power to convene the judicial appointments committee, given the severe shortage of judges in Israel, and that the decision not to convene it has been made for political reasons that constitute extraneous considerations. Attorney General Gali Baharav Miara supports the petitions, and seeks to compel Levin to convene the committee.
In his response to the petitions filed yesterday evening, Levin sought to have them dismissed on the grounds that convening the committee is within his exclusive powers, and that the court has no place to intervene. He stated in the response that he was conducting "complex constitutional negotiations with the aim of forging broad agreement to resolve a public, social and political dispute, and the stance of the Attorney General is a radical one."
"Convening the judicial appointments committee is not the aim. The aim of the law is the appointment of judges. Convening the committee now, despite the deep divisions among the people and while constitutional negotiations are taking place precisely on this matter, will miss the goal and will put back the appointment of judges for a long time," Levin’s response states. He claims that the petitioners are using the petitions as a weapon to thwart the negotiations.
Leader of the Opposition Yair Lapid, who is one of the petitioners, said in response: "The decision by the High Court of Justice is a clear message by the court to the government of Israel: Israel’s citizens are more important than politics. The High Court of Justice said today what we have been saying for months: Minister of Justice Levin has taken the judicial appointments committee and the citizens of Israel hostage, and is acting contrary to his powers and contrary to the law."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 14, 2023.
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