Sex for Judgeship: Arrests in Scandal Rocking Israel’s Justice System

An Israeli lawyer was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of promoting judges in exchange for sexual benefits, the latest development in a scandal that has reached all the way to the Justice Ministry, Supreme Court and attorney general.

According to Israel Police, the lawyer, a senior figure in Israel’s justice system, acted to appoint a female judge to a magistrate court, as well as another judge.

Police raided the offices of the Israel Bar Association as part of the investigation, as well as the suspect’s home.

Israel police said the probe was launched two weeks ago following the discovery of new information.

Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked in the President’s Residence, Jerusalem, December 2018. Olivier Fitoussi

Several other figures involved are being questioned by police. The case has been placed under a gag order.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has disqualified himself from dealing with the case given his friendship with the main suspect. Israel’s chief justice and justice minister are expected to be called in for questioning, along with all other members of the Judicial Appointments Committee.

In a statement, Supreme Court president Esther Hayut and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said that there has been a rumor mill around the case and that they "feel confident that the law enforcement system will complete the investigation and reach the truth."

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They added that Shaked, as the chair of the committee to appoint judges, has overseen the appointment of 334 judges and senior registrars through a meticulous and professional selection process.

On the committee, alongside the minister, two members of Knesset, the Justice Minister, three Supreme Court justices – including its president – and two representatives of the Israel Bar Association.

An additional lawyer is being investigated under suspicion of using its personal connections with the suspect to promote her husband’s candidacy. In her investigation, she vigorously denied the suspicions.