The Judicial Selection Committee on Monday announced the selection of Gila Kanfei-Steinitz, Ruth Ronen, Khaled Kabuv, and Yechiel Kasher as the latest Supreme Court justices. To be elected, each candidate needed the support of seven out of nine committee members. Their entry into their new jobs will be staggered: Kanfei-Steinitz will be first to take the bench, followed by Kabuv, Kasher, and finally Ronen. They will replace retired justices Menachem “Meni” Mazuz and Hanan Meltzer and in the coming month the justices who are about to retire, Neal Hendel and George Karra.
The four retiring justices belonged to the liberal faction on the court. Currently, there are five conservative justices: Noam Solberg, David Mintz, Alex Stein, Yosef Elron, and Yael Wilner. The right was hoping to increase the conservative faction with the next four appointments, to reach a majority on the 15-member court for the first time in three decades. But that was not to be.
Kanfei-Steinitz, who is married to former Likud minister Yuval Steinitz, was the candidate of Justice Minister Gideon Saar, although rumors suggest she was also supported, albeit behind the scenes, by Court President Esther Hayut. Ronen was a candidate of Hayut as well. Kasher was backed by the Israel Bar Association that insisted on appointing an attorney from the private sector. Kabuv was elected to the Arab slot and is the first Muslim judge to be appointed to a permanent seat on the Supreme Court.
Kabuv was a leading candidate for the post in the previous round, in February 2017, and won both votes of the Bar Association on the Judicial Selection Committee. But George Karra beat him in the end. When it became clear that Karra was going to be elected, Kabuv withdrew his candidacy and sent an angry letter to the committee members, accusing them of not being ripe enough to appoint a second Arab judge to the Supreme Court.
In 2013, Kabuv was stopped by a cop who cited him for talking on his mobile phone while driving. The judge used his phone to call the police district commander and asked him to have a word with his officer. In the end, Kabuv realized what a huge mistake he had done and insisted on receiving the ticket.
Kanfei-Steinitz, 63, a Jerusalem District Court judge, is considered a moderate conservative. She has sat on the bench since 1993, 13 years of which as justice of the peace, and another 15 years as a district judge. In October 2020, Kanfei-Steinitz rejected a request for a class-action lawsuit filed by Yemeni women against the Jerusalem Burial Society, for covering with a layer of dirt the graves of some 400 children in the late 1970s, and selling the area as new grave plots without the consent of the families whose children were buried below. Kanfei-Steinitz wrote that “it is doubtful in my eyes whether there is room to deal with such a sensitive matter, which may involve opening old wounds and evoking feelings of sorrow and pain, using the somewhat crude collective tool of a class action suit, denying, in effect, the right of every group member to decide whether he wants to ‘wake up’ the pains of the past after decades have gone by, and with what timing, as well as the right of each group member to have his day and ‘his justice’ in court.”
Yes, so now you get an idea. This justice will beat up a lot of folks to make sure they don’t suffer any pain.
Kasher, 60, is a veteran attorney, considered an expert in civil-commercial litigation. He is a partner in the law firm of David Tadmor, where until recently Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara was employed.
Ronen, 60, a judge in the economic department of the Tel Aviv district, is considered liberal. Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked opposed her appointment to the Supreme Court in the previous round because her husband, businessman Zeev Bergman, was a member of the public management of the New Israel Fund.
A complaint was filed against Judge Ronen in 2011 with the Judicial Review Commission by the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, for failing to recuse herself from hearing a petition by the Gisha NGO for the protection of Palestinian rights, even though her husband is a member of the New Israel Fund which funds the NGO. Ronen claimed she did not know about the connection and the Commission ruled that her conduct was not faulty.
One more thing you now know.