Photo Credit: Flash90
MK Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid), March 9, 2019.

National Unity Chairman Benny Gantz, and Labor Chairwoman Merav Michaeli on Wednesday morning announced that they would not put forward their own candidates for the committee to appoint judges, and instead are uniting behind Yesh Atid’s candidate, MK Karin Elharar.

Those of us who followed the debates on the Judicial Reform in the Knesset Constitution Committee, remember MK Elharar as confrontational, aggressive, and quite nasty in her frequent and often loud exchanges with Committee Chair Mk Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionism). The chairman, who was often impatient with opposition members and threw out after three warning those of them who would show up only to filibuster the proceedings, was forced to be more forgiving with Elharar, who is coping with muscular dystrophy and is restricted to an electric wheelchair. This turned every occasion when Rothman expelled Elharar into a prolonged, slow procession of the MK riding her chair out, sometimes while still issuing slurs.


Only a week ago, Coalition officials sent a message to MK Benny Gantz’s party saying they prefer to support their candidate for the committee to appoint judges over Elharrar. They urged Gantz to put forward a suitable candidate.

But on Wednesday morning, Gantz tweeted: “This is not the time for political calculations and ego fights. As soon as the coalition nominated more than one candidate, the question of suitability of the opposition candidate is important, but less important than getting them elected. Therefore, out of national responsibility, I have decided that the National Unity faction will not put forward a candidate for the committee to appoint judges.”

MK Michaeli also noted that once the coalition is contemplating appointing both MKs to the committee, the opposition must not fizzle out its power fighting over three candidates but unite behind a single candidate.

Wednesday is also the deadline for registering candidates to represent the Knesset in the committee to appoint judges, and so far, four members of the coalition have submitted their nomination forms. The opposition is yet to submit one. Should the vote be straightforward, without a deal reserving one of the posts to the opposition, there may not be an opposition representative. And if the opposition insists on the cantankerous Elharar as their candidate, there may not be a deal.

The coming week, until the June 14 vote on the committee’s MKs (who will join two ministers, two members of the bar, and three supreme court judges), represents the final segment in the negotiations at the president’s residence. Neither side wants to be blamed by the president for blowing up the talks, as he promised he would do. At the same time, should Justice Minister Yariv Levin permit the assembly of the judicial appointments committee in its old format––when a bill detailing the new makeup of the committee is ready and waiting for a vote––it would mean he accepted the defeat of his reform initiative over which the country has been rattled for more than five months.

The last thing Prime Minister Netanyahu needs right now is Levin’s resignation. Several Likud MKs and even a minister (Miki Zohar) said they might join him in resisting Netanyahu’s status quo. It may all be just words and, in the end, they would cower before the chairman, but there would be damage, especially from a growing group of embittered Likud officials who have been openly accusing the PM of preferring his personal interests over the party’s.

The opposition is terrified of blitz legislation whereby the coalition would pass whole segments of the judicial reform with its 64-vote majority, and leave the other side to start putting together another crazy bunch of demonstrations under the scorching summer sun.

Have you heard about Russia’s General Winter who defeated both Napoleon and Hitler? Over in Israel wars are won by Admiral Summer.

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