Israel Needs to Fix Its Undemocratic Judicial Appointment System: Require Knesset “Advice and Consent”
Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) National President Morton A. Klein and Director of Special Projects Liz Berney, Esq. released the following statement:
Last week, Israel’s undemocratic Judicial Selection Committee approved two particularly dangerous appointments to Israel’s powerful Supreme Court: Judge Khaled Kabub, a.k.a Kabov, a Muslim Arab who has alarming alleged terror connections; and far-left radical Judge Ruth Ronen. Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, current head of the Judicial Selection Committee, could have and should have stopped these dreadful selections, but instead engaged in the shameful political deal-making that resulted in these appointments. The far Left has long pushed for Ronen’s and Kabub’s appointments. Labor leader Merav Michaeli boasted that her demand (as a condition for joining the governing coalition) to have a Labor MK (Efrat Rayten) on the Judicial Committee has now borne fruit.
This contradicts moral and Biblical laws for selecting judges, which enjoin us to select judges that do not pervert justice, show favoritism, or accept anything – no matter how small – that might be deemed a bribe. (Shoftim) The major criteria that should have been used are impartiality, integrity, and fidelity to Israel’s Basic Laws (Israel’s equivalent of a constitution). But these criteria were not mentioned.
Elevating Judge Kabub and Judge Ronen to the Israeli Supreme Court could damage Israeli sovereignty and rights, and Israel’s ability to defend herself against terrorists for many years.
Judge Khaled Kabub’s Terror Connections: Several months ago, bereaved Israeli terror victims’ families and organizations wrote to Minister Sa’ar and Israel’s Ombudsman for Judges, asking Sa’ar to withdraw Judge Kabub from consideration to Israel’s high court. These bereaved Jewish families noted that in August 2020, Judge Khaled Kabub met with former Palestinian Authority Mufti Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, current head of the Supreme Muslim Council, who has supported terrorism and suicide bombings, is linked to the Hamas terror organization, and incited against the Jewish State on multiple occasions. Kabub also met with Yousef Muhamir, chairman of the illegal Mourabitoun organization, banned due to its affiliation with terrorism. In addition, the judge’s son, Walid Kabub, publicly supported Hamas last May while Hamas was lobbing 4,369 rockets at Israeli civilians. (See “Muslim High Court Nominee Facing Accusations of Terror Support,” by Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency/Jewish Press, Oct. 6, 2021.)
Judge Ronen’s Connection to Anti-Israel NIF Grantee: Judge Ruth Ronen has apparently placed far-left wing ideology above her judicial obligations. In 2011, Judge Ronen ordered the Israeli government to give sensitive security information regarding Gaza to the anti-Israel NGO Gisha. Ronen’s involvement in this case and dangerous decision violated Ronen’s obligation to recuse herself, because Ronen’s husband, Ze’ev Bergman, was a management member of (and large donor – NIS 350,000) to the hostile-to-Israel group “New Israel Fund/Shatil,” which funds Gisha. The Legal Forum for Israel filed a complaint against Judge Ronen for failing to recuse herself. Then-Ombudsman for Judges Eliezer Goldberg found that the complaint against Judge Ronen was justified. (See also here; here; here and here.)
The Israeli Supreme Court’s Inordinate Power: We shudder to think of the terrible decisions that these two Israeli Supreme Court judges will inflict on Israel. This is especially concerning because the Israeli Supreme Court has arrogated to itself inordinate power to overturn government action, Israeli laws, and Israel’s Basic Laws, and exert jurisdiction over other branches of government, in order to issue an “avalanche of radical decisions.” (“Breaking Israel’s Imperial Court, by Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 28, 2017.)
Moreover, the Israeli Supreme Court has arrogated to itself the power to decide political questions and wide-ranging jurisdiction. By contrast, in the U.S., the “political question doctrine” prohibition and our Constitutional limits restrict the cases heard by federal courts. While the U.S. Supreme Court decides only 100 to 150 cases per year, the Israeli Supreme Court decides 10,000 cases per year. Many cases are brought by anti-Israel NGOs to harass Israel and the Israel Defense Forces. Israel needs to enact strong limits on justiciability and the Supreme Court’s powers.
Further, the all-powerful Israeli Supreme Court’s decisions are binding on all other Israel courts – except that it can overturn its prior decisions and impose new law throughout the land. (Basic Law: the Judiciary, section 20(b).) Further Israeli Supreme Court cases are often decided by three-judge panels, or just one judge. Two new bad judges can thus cause enormous damage.
Israel Needs to Overhaul Her Undemocratic Judicial Selection Committee Process: Israel currently has nothing like the U.S. Constitutional requirement for Senate “advice and consent” for judicial appointments. The U.S. Senate “advice and consent” process allows for proper vetting, hearings, approval of judges by elected representations, and separation of powers.
By contrast, Israeli Supreme Court judges are appointed by Israel’s president upon election by an undemocratic nine-person Judicial Selection Committee, consisting of: the Minister of Justice; one other Minister; the Israeli Supreme Court’s president and two other Supreme Court judges, two Knesset members and two members of the Israeli bar association (the “Chamber of Advocates”). (Basic Laws: The Judiciary, section 4(b).) This process has enabled the Israeli Supreme Court to control the appointment of its own new judges, because the Court has three votes and is usually supported by the two-bar association votes. This creates a perpetual undemocratic “friend-brings-a-friend” cycle. The process also leads to unsavory deal-making. In order to make this process democratic, and insure against continuing radical appointments, Israel needs to overhaul this system. The Knesset should be given the “advice and consent” power over Israeli Supreme Court judicial appointments.