Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Wednesday endorsed the legality of Israeli television stations broadcasting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's upcoming controversial speech on Iran before Congress.
Critics had objected to the broadcast, calling the speech political grandstanding since it falls only weeks before the March 17 Israeli elections.
But Weinstein rejected the criticism, calling broadcasting the speech valid news reporting.
The petition to block the speech had been filed by Meretz party leader Zahava Gal-On, with Weinstein's response being directed to the the High Court of Justice.
Gal-On said she is not surprised that Weinstein rejected her stance, because he is "dragging his legs when it comes to investigations of the Netanyahu family."
The Meretz leader expressed hope that Central Election Committee chairman Salim Joubran will not accept Weinstein's opinion and will declare that broadcasting the speech two weeks before the election is illegal campaigning.
"If there will be newsworthy elements to the speech, a report will be enough and there is no need to air the entire speech," she added. "The Attorney General needs to take a broader view of what the interests of the State of Israel are during this election."
The attorney-general noted that the prime minister has spoken to the US Congress multiple times before as part of his office.
Weinstein excepted Netanyahu's argument that the speech is primarily important to advance Israel's position on the ongoing P5+1 negotiations with Iran over its nuclear weapons program.
He said that even if there is a political dimension to the speech, as long as the dominant purpose of the speech is advancing Israeli interests, broadcasting it cannot be blocked.
The attorney-general noted that the prime minister was invited by the US Congress, though curiously, he did not mention any of the hot criticism by US officials, both Democrat and even some on the Republican side, of the timing of the speech.