Israeli justice official, high court president caught up in sex trading scandal

The Israel Bar Association was raided and three people were arrested Wednesday on suspicion that judges traded sexual favors for bench appointments.

Israeli Supreme Court President Esther Hayut (L) is congratulated by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked (R) during a ceremony in Jerusalem in October 2017. File Photo by Jim Hollander
Israeli Supreme Court President Esther Hayut (L) is congratulated by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked (R) during a ceremony in Jerusalem in October 2017. File Photo by Jim Hollander

The scandal has rocked the Israeli judicial system, as several prominent figures were questioned by police — including Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Supreme Court President Esther Hayut. One senior attorney and a female judge were also held.
The prominent lawyer, who wasn’t immediately named, is accused of meddling in the judge appointment process.

“The police today allowed partial publication of details of the affair that embarrasses the judicial system,” former Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch said on Army Radio. “It seems that something very serious has happened here regarding the procedure of the appointment of judges to the courts.”

The probe started two weeks ago and included raiding the bar association and at least one home. Those involved in the case are under a gag order.

Opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich called the scandal “horrific” and said the “judicial selection committee operated under terror and corruption under the destructive leadership of Justice Minister Shaked.”

She also said the judges and members of the committee were in a “dirty and threatening atmosphere.”

Shaked and Hayut issued a joint statement saying only 2 of 334 judicial appointments are being investigated by the committee. They said they’re confident police will get the truth and remove questions beyond the few suspicious appointments.

Hayut sent a public letter to Israeli judges encouraging them to “continue to believe in ourselves,” and preform their duties honorably.

ByNicholas Sakelaris