Israeli Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger announced on Tuesday that he would retire in February next year. Should the current coalition remain in place by then, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), who recently celebrated a significant victory when she appointed at least three conservative justices to the hyper-activist Miriam N’aor court, will now have the privilege of appointing two more justices (out of 15 altogether). Replacing Danziger with a conservative justice would be a stunning zero sum gain for the right. Adding yet a second restrained voice to the court would go a long way to restore political sanity to the Jewish State.
Danziger, 64, is identified with the extreme left faction of the Supreme Court. Since his appointment in 2007, his fingerprints could be found on many anti-settler and pro-Arab rulings. Most recently, he was on the panel that denied a request by the Ofra residents of nine homes awarded to their Arab claimants. The homes stood well inside the Ofra community, so that their new owners could never go in to benefit from their property. The residents asked that the court, in the spirit of the newly enacted Regulation Act, would permit them to lease or buy the land, even though the act went into effect after the court ruling. The panel that included Danziger and Na’or ordered the demolition of the homes, and they will now continue to stand there, in ruins, to no one’s benefit.
Danziger asked that the Knesset change the law permitting suits against groups calling for boycotting the settlements.
Danziger ruled that police may never search a person without actual proof, even with that person’s consent, arguing that no one really gives their consent to a police officer.
Danziger sided with Mustafa Dirani, kidnapper of IAF navigator Ron Arad, who wanted to sue Israel for his harsh interrogation.
Danziger sided with African infiltrators, saying that no amount of suffering on the part of Jewish residents of south Tel Aviv neighborhoods could justify locking up illegal migrants from the Sudan and Eritrea.
In the next round of appointment, Shaked will face a tougher opponent than the soon to retire President Mirian Na’or – Justice Esther Hayut. She is further to the left than Na’or, and has been pushing Na’or to stand up to the Justice Minister during negotiations. Hayut is also 64, which means she will likely stay on for another six years. She, too, was on the panel that chose ruin over mutual benefit in the Ofra appeal. She will not be an easy party to negotiations, and in a 9-member committee there’s no telling how much clever politicking Shaked can manage.
On the other hand, of all the rightwing politicians today, Shaked stands out as a calculated and effective negotiator. judging by her record so far, she will do her homework and come prepared.