The Committee for Selecting Supreme Court Justices on Wednesday evening announced its four new appointments: Jerusalem District Court Judge Dr. David Mintz, Haifa District Judge Yael Willner, President of the District Court in Haifa Yosef Elron, and Tel Aviv District Court Judge George Kara.
The new judges will replace outgoing justices Naor, Rubinstein, Jubran and Zilbertal.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said in a statement: “Today we made history. This evening the Committee for Selecting Supreme Court Justices which I head appointed four judges to the Supreme Court, after we have already selected some 150 judges since the start of this term (May 2015). The judicial appointments this evening express the human as well as jurist common sense we so need as a society and which has been so direly absent from the highest judicial echelon.”
“The stirring wheel of our judicial flagship have changed their direction tonight,” Shaked concluded.
The committee has nine members, with the Justice Minister as Chairman; one additional cabinet minister, chosen by the cabinet; two MKs, chosen by the Knesset, usually one from the coalition and the other from the opposition; two members of the Bar Association; the sitting Chief Justice and two other Supreme Court justices.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) praised the Justice Minister on the selection in a tweet that went: “Kudos to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked who did the unbelievable and led a true revolution in the Committee for Selecting Supreme Court Justices, electing excellent, conservative justices. Mabruk (good for you), Ayelet.”
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) also congratulated Shaked for “an important step on the road to changing the character of the court and returning its glory from the first decades in the state’s history, before the activist agenda of Justice Barak took it over.”
Before offering an analysis of the new picks, we should start with a note of joy at the departure of Court President Miriam Na’or, who navigated her court in the tradition of her mentor, Justice Aharon Barak, usurping legislative powers not accorded her by law.
Three out the four new justices are considered conservatives, and two of them are Orthodox Jews: Dr. David Mintz is a resident of Dolev, in Judea and Samaria. Yael Willner attended a religious high school and is known as affiliated with the National Religious movement. Yosef Elron was promoted by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and is a centrist conservative.
Judge George Kara, a Christian Arab, is a resident of Jaffa who graduated from the Tel Aviv University law department. He “starred” in two high-profile cases where he stood up to power: he convicted Israeli President Moshe Katsav of rape; and convicted tycoon Ofer Nimrodi of illegal wiretapping. It remains to be seen, however, whether he, too, would advocate for a more restrained, conservative Supreme Court.