Ten judges appointed to magistrates courts in second round of judicial appointments

Ministers on Judicial Selection Committee sought to discuss possible impeachment of Supreme Court justice, but told disciplinary action must wait till an examination is completed

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

The Judicial Selection Committee meets for the first time in over 18 months in Jerusalem, on November 16, 2023. (GPO)
The Judicial Selection Committee meets for the first time in over 18 months in Jerusalem, on November 16, 2023. (GPO)

The Judicial Selection Committee appointed ten new judges to magistrate courts in two districts on Thursday, the second time the panel has filled judicial vacancies during the current government’s tenure.

All appointments were made unanimously by the nine-member committee, a joint statement issued by Justice Minister Yariv Levin and Acting Supreme Court President Uzi Vogelman said.

But vacancies to the Jerusalem District Court were not filled due to disagreements on the panel, with Levin refusing to allow a vote on proposed appointments, which apparently had a majority on the committee for approval, a source familiar with the matter said.

A spokesperson for Levin said merely that there had not been a consensus for those appointments.

Additionally, two cabinet ministers on the committee sought to add an agenda item to the hearing to discuss alleged violations of judicial ethical rule by Supreme Court Justice Khaled Kabub and the possibility of impeaching him.

They were told, however, by Israel Courts Administration officials that there is currently an examination into the allegations against Kabub and that disciplinary action could only be taken after the investigation is completed.

Supreme Court Justice Khaled Kabub at a swearing-in ceremony for newly appointed judges at the President’s residence in Jerusalem, May 09, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Of the new appointments, three new judges were selected for magistrate courts in Israel’s northern district, along with a senior registrar. Another seven judges were appointed to magistrate courts in the Haifa district, along with three senior registrars.

Although the effort to reach a consensus on the Jerusalem District Court appointments was “unsuccessful” according to a spokesperson for Levin, the committee will revisit those vacancies at the next meeting on March 5.

The committee will also deliberate on more appointments to district and magistrate courts in the northern, Haifa and Jerusalem districts at that meeting.

Appointments to the lower courts need a majority of five of the nine committee members to be confirmed.

Levin, Settlements and National Projects Minister Orit Strock and MK Yitzhak Kroizer of Otzma Yehudit represent the coalition on the committee, while Supreme Court Justice Noam Sohlberg is a strongly conservative figure on the court and in the committee.

Acting Supreme Court President Uzi Vogelman, Supreme Court Justice Isaac Amit, Yesh Atid MK Karin Elharar, and Israel Bar Association representatives Muhamad Naamneh and Yonit Calmanovich are in the liberal camp of the committee and have a majority on the panel.

Justice Minister Yariv Levin attends a conference at the Begin Heritage Center, in Jerusalem, September 5, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Appointments to the Supreme Court require a majority of seven committee members for confirmation.

A source familiar with the proceedings said that Levin was still “clinging” to his pre-October 7 goals of trying to overhaul the judiciary, alleging that he has dragged out the current appointments process, and noting that there are still dozens of vacancies to fill.

They also pointed to Levin’s ongoing refusal to appoint a new president to head the Supreme Court following the retirement of the previous president Esther Hayut back in October, as well as his refusal to fill Hayut’s spot on the bench and that of Anat Baron who also retired in October.

Several allegations have been raised against Kabub in recent days over claims he has promoted his daughter’s law firm, in contravention of court regulations.

The Kan public broadcaster reported that Kabub’s daughter had a large portrait of her father hung in the offices of her firm. A photograph of Kabub posing in front of the picture was posted by his daughter to the firm’s Instagram account.

Another paid Instagram post with a picture of Kabub was also posted to the account, while the Supreme Court justice also appeared in other photos and videos posted by his daughter to social media.

Kabub said that he had not been involved in “the design” of his daughter’s offices, but added that the picture of him had now been removed.

The justice also attended an opening event for his daughter’s law offices where he was photographed again in front of a picture of himself in the office.

The Supreme Court justice has also been photographed meeting with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, and presided over hearings involving the Tel Aviv Municipal Council shortly after the meeting without recusing himself or informing the court of his connection to Huldai, Kan reported.

Kabub said he had been meeting a friend in the cafe and bumped into Huldai by chance.

A complaint has been filed to the State Ombudsman of the Israeli Judiciary and the issue is currently under being examined.

The rules for judicial ethical conduct stipulate that judges are forbidden from meeting with politicians, must not use their status to advance their interests or the interests of others or derive benefit, materially or otherwise, from their position.

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