ISRAEL APPOINTS FIRST FEMALE JUDGE TO MUSLIM COURT


Israel has appointed a female judge to a Sharia court for the first time, breaking with the country’s Jewish ultra-Orthodox ideology that forbids women from serving as jurists in religious courts.

The Judicial Appointments Committee —headed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party — voted unanimously for the appointment of Hana Mansour-Khatib to a Muslim court, of which there are nine in Israel.

Jewish women are forbidden by Israeli law from sitting in Rabbinical courts, which—like their Sharia counterparts—decide on matters related to family, marriage, divorce and custody of children. While no similar rule exists for Sharia courts, ultra-Orthodox politicians had blocked the appointment of female judges to avoid creating a precedent.

Mansour-Khatib, who is expected to be sworn in by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, is a family lawyer from Tamra, a predominantly Arab city in northern Israel. Her appointment represents a victory for Shaked, who had already backed a bill allowing for female Muslim judges to serve in Sharia courts in December 2015.

At the time, the government blocked the legislation because of concerns raised by the ultra-Orthodox members of the coalition.

“We made history,” Shaked wrote on Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday. “This is great news for Arab women and the Arab society. I’m excited over the choice, and hope this is the bellwether for further appointments of women.”(nw)

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