Israel on Monday appointed an Arab Muslim to serve as in the country’s highest court as one of four new Supreme Court justices.
It marked the first such appointment for a Muslim. While Israel has appointed Arab Israelis in the past as justices, they have all been Christians.
In another first, the Judicial Appointments Committee also appointed a Jewish woman from Mizrahi descent as one of the four justices. Mizrahi Jews mostly come from Arab, Muslim-majority nations who were persecuted in their home countries after the state of Israel was established.
“The four new justices elected to the Supreme Court are excellent,” Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar said, according to the Times of Israel.
“They were selected according to the three criteria I set: excellence, balance and diversity. A variety of opinions, genders and ethnic backgrounds,” he continued. “I am responsible for this vital system. I have not received and will not receive grades or dictates from extremist or opposition parties.
“Most people understand that the justice system needs repair and not destruction, and appreciate the commitment to preserving Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”
The committee was headed by Sa’ar, from the rightwing New Hope party, and includes Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who is considered right-wing and serves in Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s rightwing Yamina party. The rest of the committee range from center to liberal.
Shaked, however, abstained from voting for Kabub, saying she would have chosen different judges.
Judge Khaled Kabub, 63, currently serves as vice president of the Tel Aviv District Court.
According to the Times of Israel, his most famous ruling was the 2016 conviction of former billionaire Nochi Dankner for manipulating shares in his company.
The news of his appointment as the highest judge in the land comes weeks after Amnesty International accused Israel of being an apartheid state.
Also on Tuesday, Amnesty’s own Israel director came out in staunch opposition of the accusation, saying it was a “punch in the gut” that was making things worse.
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