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For first time in year, 50 new judges appointed to district and magistrate courts

Justice Minister Sa’ar says move will ‘strengthen our justice system and its ability to cope with challenges’

Illustrative: The Beersheba District Court in southern Israel, on December 1, 2019. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative: The Beersheba District Court in southern Israel, on December 1, 2019. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The Judicial Selection Committee on Thursday appointed 19 new district court judges and another 31 to magistrate courts around the country, for the first time in more than a year.

An additional six judges were appointed to temporary positions at various district courts.

Hailing the move, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar tweeted: “Excellent judges have been chosen who will strengthen our justice system and its ability to cope with challenges and [lighten] the heavy load.”

The appointments come amid gridlock on the committee over selecting new justices for the Supreme Court after none of the previous candidates could be agreed upon.

In November, Sa’ar froze the committee’s activities after no consensus could be reached on nominations. The panel is tasked with naming four new justices to the Supreme Court: two to replace retired judges Menachem Mazuz and Hanan Melcer, and two to replace Neal Hendel and George Kara, who will be stepping down next year.

But after ongoing infighting, the politically diverse panel was unable to agree on any of the 24 candidates.

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar speaks during a plenum session in the Knesset, on December 15, 2021. (Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)

The committee has yet to reconvene on the subject of Supreme Court judges, despite a January 6 deadline to file candidate names.

The committee, headed by Sa’ar, also includes Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who is No. 2 in Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s right-wing Yamina party; liberal-leaning Supreme Court Justices Esther Hayut, Uzi Vogelman and Yitzhak Amit; Israel Bar Association Attorneys Ilana Seker and Muhammad Na’aman; MK Simcha Rothman from the far-right Religious Zionism Party; and MK Efrat Rayten from the center-left Labor party.

Shaked and Rothman are lobbying for more conservative-leaning judges to be appointed, while Hayut and other members of the panel have been pushing for liberal justices.

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