Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked [official website] confirmed [Twitter post, in Hebrew] Tuesday that the country’s Judicial Appointments Committee has approved the first female judge to a Muslim religious court. Both Jewish Rabbinical and Muslim Sharia courts hear marriage, divorce and other family law cases [Rabbinical jurisdiction law, PDF] for their given religion in the country. Jewish law explicitly forbids women from serving as judges on Jewish family courts, but no similar rule exists for their Muslim counterparts. Women’s advocates in the country hope the appointment [Times of Israel report] will help lead to broader roles for women in Israel’s judiciary. The judge, Hana Mansour-Khatib, is expected to be sworn in by Israel President Reuven Rivlin at some point in the next few weeks.
Women’s roles in the judiciary have been controversial in Israel and other countries in the region for some time. Women’s rights groups have criticized [Jewish Women’s Archive backgrounder] Jewish law for generally favoring men. In September 2016, a UN expert called for [JURIST report] increased female participation in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. In 2010, Egypt’s constitutional court system allowed [JURIST report] its first women judges.