Politicians call on Shaked to come clean or step down

MK Stav Shaffir called on Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked Wednesday to “Tell all or resign.”

Shaffir (Labor) was among a handful of politicians and other leaders who reacted swiftly and strongly to reports Wednesday that police arrested a senior lawyer and summoned two other suspects on suspicion of demanding sexual favors in exchange for judicial appointments.

Shaffir said the “the public deserves answers to a scandal that is on a an unprecedented level” and that the justice minister “should tell the whole truth or resign – those are the only options.”

Shaffir cautioned that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might use the judicial scandal to “demonstrate that the whole system is corrupt” in an attempt to evade prosecution.

“Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” Shaffir said.

Politicians took to Twitter and disseminated statements to the media calling on an investigation into how such a scandal could erupt in Israel – and how the justice minister and prime minister did not know about it.

“Only a real commission of inquiry will restore confidence in the system,” said Labor head Avi Gabbay.

Others, such as opposition leader MK Shelly Yachimovich and MK Revital Swid, blamed the scandal on the politicizing of the judicial system by Shaked and Netanyahu.

“This new affair highlights the four-year campaign of destruction, in which the prime minister and the justice minister abused the judicial system,” Swid said. “When this becomes the norm, it is no wonder that the Judicial Selection Committee has also been desecrated.”

Yachimovich expressed similar sentiments: “The Judicial Selection Committee operated under terror and corruption, and under the destructive leadership of Justice Minister Shaked.”

“The rotten environment and broken alliances that created it are the grounds for the horrific affair being exposed today,” Yachimovich continued. “The judges, members of the committee, were forced to act in a dirty and threatening atmosphere.”

But Shaked and Esther Hayut, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, issued an unusual joint statement by early afternoon in which they rejected any allegations of broad-based corruption in the appointment of judges.

The statement said that so far only two judges’ appointments are being probed in contrast to the 334 judges and registrars appointed by the Judicial Selection Committee under Shaked.

In addition, the statement said that they trust the police to get to the truth regarding the investigation and that they hope the probe will be completed speedily so as to remove any questions about the legal establishment beyond those few suspected.

Later on Wednesday, Hayut sent a public letter to all of the country’s judges calling on them to “continue to believe in ourselves” and to continue to perform their duties honorably. She added that the judicial branch has faced hard times in the past – and that this probe is definitely a low – but that the judiciary would “brave the storm and continue to show that most judges serve honorably.”

The chairman of the national council of the Israel’s Bar Association Hava Martzki called an emergency meeting for Sunday.

MK Robert Ilatov praised his own work and that of other members of the Judicial Committee and he urged them to remember the work they’ve done. Then, he reminded them of their mission.

“It is a privilege and tremendous mission to serve on the Judicial Selection Committee,” Ilatov said. “We have the highest moral duty to keep it clean.”

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