The Knesset voted opposition MK Karine Elharrar onto the Judicial Selections Committee, which is responsible for appointing judges at all levels of Israel’s civil court system.
The surprise outcome means several members of Netanyahu’s coalition voted for Elharrar.
This was a… pic.twitter.com/vhjjMCqCSJ
— Aviva Klompas (@AvivaKlompas) June 14, 2023
Knesset elects representatives to judicial selection committees—MK Elharrar elected to Judges Selection Committee and MK Tameno Shete to Rabbinical Judges Selection Committee; votes for choosing additional representatives to be held within 30 dayshttps://t.co/SaTAS96cHo pic.twitter.com/ZpT3MqjSIJ
— The Knesset (@KnessetENG) June 15, 2023
Just relax, bro!
A rebellion by members of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s, government in an important vote related to controversial judicial changes has dealt the longtime leader a political setback, bringing divisions in his coalition to the fore and scuppering compromise talks with the opposition.
The Knesset was expected on Wednesday to elect two political representatives to Israel’s nine-member judicial selection committee, one of the key issues in the six-month-old debate over the nature of Israeli democracy, and a vote widely viewed as a referendum on the future of the overhaul.
Usually, one political appointee is chosen by the government and one by the opposition, but several hardliners in Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist coalition had demanded that both positions be filled by government representatives.
At the last minute, the prime minister decided to push for more time, ordering his nationalist-religious coalition to vote against all candidates – a move that would trigger a new vote in the next 30 days.
But four members of the government used their secret ballots to support the opposition candidate, Karine Elharrar’s, appointment in a 58-56 vote, and a second candidate, Tally Gotliv of Netanyahu’s Likud party, refused to withdraw her candidacy but did not get enough votes to cross the threshold for election. The stalemate means the Knesset will still have to fill the second post within the month.
The political chaos weakens Netanyahu. Israel’s two main opposition party leaders, angry at the 11th-hour manoeuvring, said on Wednesday night they would suspend participation in compromise talks over the judicial overhaul, brokered by the country’s figurehead president, Isaac Herzog. The negotiations have yielded few concrete results so far.
Dissent from within the government’s ranks has also raised questions over the prime minister’s control. The judicial changes remain a central goal for Netanyahu’s far-right partners and some members of the Likud, but internal divisions are growing, fanned by mixed messaging from the prime minister.
The opposition leader and former PM Yair Lapid said: “There is a representative [from the opposition] in the committee to select judges, but there is no committee to select judges … Netanyahu today prevented its establishment.” He added: “The threat to democracy has not been removed.”
The prime minister, in turn, accused the opposition of not taking the compromise talks seriously. “Their representative was elected, and they still blew up the negotiations,” he said in a video statement.
Frankly, if Jews won’t let us have a right-wing dictator, I don’t think they should be allowed to have one either.
It’s not fair.
היום הוכח: גנץ ולפיד חיפשו כל תירוץ כדי לפוצץ את ההידברות pic.twitter.com/BL1WXnhjh5
— Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) June 14, 2023