Photo: Yaron Brener
Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman
Photo: Yaron Brener
Supreme Court
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Justice minister: If law to add judges is passed, I resign

Law proposed by rightist MKs for additional Supreme Court judges rejected by ministerial committee

No additional judges in Supreme Court: The Ministerial Committee on Legislation decided Sunday to reject a bill proposal to increase the number of judges in the Supreme Court from 15 to 18. Ten ministers voted against the proposal and six in favor.


Sources in the committee told Ynet that during the discussions, Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman opposed the proposal submitted by members of Knesset Yariv Levin (Likud) and Michael Ben-Ari (National Union), and threatened to resign if the proposal to increase the number of judges in the Supreme Court was accepted.


MK Daniel Hershkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi) said to Ne'eman, "We support the proposed law and we also support your continued service." However, others in the committee said Ne'eman's threat to resign if the proposal was accepted was made when it was already clear what the committee's decision would be.


Hershkowitz added, "The proposal does not damage the judicial system. On the contrary, the addition of judges would have more faithfully reflected the range of opinion among the Israeli public."


During the discussions, Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan (Likud), who supported the proposal, said that there was no connection between the proposal and the court's decision regarding Route 443, since the proposal was submitted long before this ruling.


"As a member of the Committee for Appointing Judges, I saw that whenever someone wanted to include a representative of another sector of the public, for example someone from academia, they would say there's no place for anyone else," Erdan said to the committee members. "The proposed law would enable greater pluralism in the Supreme Court. It would also decrease the load currently borne by the court. Today, discussions are scheduled for weeks ahead. The proposal would have enabled justice to be served more quickly."


This is not the first time that MKs have submitted proposals to increase the number of judges in the Supreme Court. Previous proposals have met with the opposition of serving judges as well as Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish, who stridently opposed the proposal. Those who opposed the proposal claim that an increase in numbers would lead to the politicization of the court.


Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar (Likud), who opposed the proposal, explained his opposition by noting that the Knesset increased the number of judges from 12 to 15 just a few years ago, a process that won his support as chairman of the coalition. "There is no logic to such frequent changes," he said.


Netanyahu: don’t discuss the Golan

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation also decided Sunday not to vote on the proposal submitted by MK Carmel Shama (Likud), according to which a majority of 80 MKs would be needed for any decision to withdraw from the Golan Heights.


The decision to postpone the vote was taken following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's personal request. However, the Knesset is already handling a proposal according to which a plebiscite would be required before any Israeli-controlled territory is conceded.


The proposed law on referendums determines that if a majority of 80 MKs support a withdrawal from territory under Israeli control, a referendum would not be required.


The committee also avoided discussion on the controversial amendment to the Basic Law: Knesset, submitted by MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beitenu). The proposed amendment would oblige MKs to swear allegiance to the "Zionist, Jewish and democratic" State.


פרסום ראשון: 01.03.10, 18:15
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