Judge loses Netanyahu support for Likud post after rape comment

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A judge in the running for the presidency of the Likud Party’s court has lost the support of the prime minister after saying at a court hearing that “some girls like to be raped.”

Judge Emeritus Nissim Yeshaya made the statement on Monday during a hearing in Tel Aviv District Court. The comment was first reported Wednesday morning by Army Radio.

Later on Wednesday, Yeshaya asked to be relieved from serving on legal panels, The Associated Press reported, citing a joint statement from Israel’s justice minister and the president of the Supreme Court. He had retired from the Tel Aviv District Court in 2009 at the age of 65, but continued to serve on the panels. Lawmakers and rights organizations had called for Yeshaya to be suspended from serving on panels.

Yeshaya was presiding over a closed-door Social Security appeals committee hearing in which a woman who was raped six years ago by four Palestinian youths from the Shuafat refugee camp was appealing a Defense Ministry decision not to classify the rape as a terrorist attack. She was 13 at the time of the rape.

The judge said through a court spokesman that his words were taken out of context, and that they were said in the context of providing an example of a reason that it could not be classified as a terrorist attack.

“During the hearing, a question was raised regarding the proof of a causal relationship and in the heat of the hearing things were said in this spirit,” the spokesman said. “There was no intention for these words to hurt or disrespect, heaven forbid, rape victims. The judge apologizes for these words.”

Yeshaya is a candidate for the president of the Likud court, which handles internal party matters. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday withdrew his support for Yeshaya in light of the statement.

The Courts Administration said it would summon Yeshaya to clarify his statement.

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