Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced Thursday morning the appointment of the vice president of the Tel Aviv District Court Judge Shaul Shochat to the Supreme Court in a temporary six-month term. The appointment comes amid controversy in the Judicial Selection Committee, which has led to Sa’ar postponing the election of new judges that was scheduled for last week.
Sa’ar justified the postponement, saying: “Despite many efforts made to reach an agreement to elect judges in accordance with the requirement of the law – this has not been successful so far.”
According to news reports, there is a dispute among the committee members about which judges to appoint, and whether they could be appointed from the private sector.
The Supreme Court’s panel has been reduced since the retirement of Justices Hanan Meltzer and Menachem Mazuz. The committee must also find replacements for Justices Neil Handel and George Kara, who will retire next year.
The list of candidates for the Supreme Court includes 24 candidates, among them 12 district court judges, senior attorneys from the private sector, academics, one former Chief Military Advocate, and a former Chief Public Defender. The candidates are secular and religious, conservative and liberal. Only a third of them are women, one candidate is an Arab, and two are LGBTs.
Among Judge Shochat’s most renowned cases is his ruling in 2000 that a woman who refuses to receive a get until her financial claims are accepted loses her right to claim alimony for that time; a precedent-setting ruling in 2012 that a grandparent can sue for visitation “out of consideration for the best interests of the children,” even though both parents are alive and even when the grandparent is not a biological grandfather; ruled that the bank is required to pay off the mortgage balance debt of a couple who believed that the husband was included in life insurance policy while in practice he was not insured – Judge Shochat ruled that the bank violated its fiduciary duty to its customers; and decided in 2004 on a divorced couple’s shared custody of their dog.