An Israeli Scandal Involving Judicial Appointments Results from a Fundamentally Flawed System

Dominating Israeli headlines this week was the arrest of Effi Naveh, the head of the Israeli Bar Association, on suspicion of bartering judicial appointments for sex. In Israel, a nine-member panel—in which the head of the Bar Association sits ex officio—is responsible for the selection of all the countries’ judges. The panel’s other members are three sitting Supreme Court justices, another representative of the Bar Association, the justice minister, and three other Knesset members. Yitzḥak Ram argues that this system, intended to depoliticize the judicial system, in fact fosters corruption:

When such immense power is put into the hands of so very few, corruption becomes probable. . . . In democratic societies, [however], mechanisms are created to limit and monitor the government, to mitigate the concerns over potential corruption. One of these mechanisms is transparency. Sunlight, according to the former U.S. Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis, is the best disinfectant. [But] the judicial-selection committee is the civilian body most shielded from the sunlight. Its hearings are closed and its protocols secret. In 2008, then-Justice [and now chief justice] Esther Ḥayut ruled that the judicial-selection committee was not a “public authority” under the Freedom of Information Law, and therefore was not bound by it. [Ḥayut also co-chairs the selection committee] . . .

The concentration of power in the hands of a small committee that operates behind a thick curtain is an invitation for corruption, nepotism, cronyism, and other underhanded dealings. . . . [Its] makeup gives the judges a built-in advantage: they constitute one-third of the committee; they don’t have to deal with a coalition or an opposition; and they vote as one. . . . Due to the “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” system, uniformity of thought has pervaded the Supreme Court, such that its monopoly over legal interpretation and principles has become almost entirely hegemonic. . . .

The system itself has to be changed: this pernicious committee has to be terminated. appointment power must be taken away from the judges, and judges should be appointed by elected officials in an open and transparent process, per the norm in Western democracies.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics, Supreme Court of Israel


An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security