Muslim Arabs make up about 21% of Israel’s population, but not a single Muslim Arab has been elected as a permanent judge on the Supreme Court since Israel was founded. The only Muslim to ever served on the Supreme Court was Abdel Zuabi, who was only appointed temporary term of less than a year in 1999.
The published list of candidates for the Supreme Court might change the situation after it contains the Tel Aviv District Court Judge, Khaled Kabub, the court’s deputy president and head of its economic division. He is regarded as a strong contender for the position.
The Judicial Appointments Committee will be selecting from the list at the end of November to select replacements for Justices Menachem Mazuz and Hanan Melcer, who resigned, and Justices Karra and Neal Handel who will be retiring next year. Kabub possibly will be appointed to replace the position currently filled by Karra, who is the court’s only Arab justice.
The Supreme Court had had an Arab on the bench since 2003 when an Arab Christian Justice, Salim Joubran, was appointed in the Judicial Appointment Committee’s efforts to represent the diversity of Israeli society on the judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court.
In the last Supreme Court appointments in 2017, although Kabub was a leading candidate, he lost the seat to George Karra because the three Supreme Court justices supported Karra on the committee and the four politicians. In addition, The Israel Bar Association, the justice minister, another cabinet minister, and two Knesset members were also parts of the panel.
The defeat left him very disappointed that it almost led him to resign as a judge fully. But, a committee member, Supreme Court Presiden Esther Hayut, persuaded him not to resign and promised to select him after Karra retired, say sources.
Because there is no other leading Arab candidate for the position, Kabub is expected to receive support from the two Israel Bar Association representatives and other committee members.
However, Kabub’s appointment is not assured. Another source on the committee admitted that his prospects are excellent, but nothing has been decided regarding the candidates for the Supreme Court until this time.