The Knesset in session: The legislature is going to be working overtime..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Legislation that would allow ministers to make personal appointments to the powerful position of ministry legal adviser, rather than have them be selected via a public tender, passed a first reading in the Knesset.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, presenting the bill in the plenum on Monday, explained: “We cannot ignore the fact that legal advisers in ministries have great significance.
Because of the long process in which the High Court of Justice decided to take everything under its jurisdiction, every administrative decision in a ministry can be brought before the court, and therefore must be authorized by the legal adviser.
“Politicians represent the public interest,” she added. “Even if a legal adviser has the same values or worldview as a minister, that should not hurt the legal adviser’s ability to stand strong before the minister if his actions are inconsistent with the law or rules of good governance.”
Shaked argued that, like other senior positions in ministries, the minister should be able to make the final decision as to whom should be hired.
Unlike the position of ministry director-general, however, the bill would have the legal adviser be found via a search committee, after which the minister and attorney-general decide together.
MK Yisrael Eichler of United Torah Judaism came out against the High Court’s 1990s “revolution that conquered the state’s government without a single bullet. Not the army, but the judiciary, sat and planned how to prevent the rebellious nation, which doesn’t agree with it, from deciding what happens in the country... Every legal adviser in every ministry and municipality decides what’s good or bad, and in the Knesset, when an MK wants to propose a bill, some 20-year-old legal adviser rejects his bill. This is the time to stop this dictatorship.”
MK Tzipi Livni of the Zionist Union, a former justice minister, said that “appointing private legal advisers is another step toward destroying Israeli democracy. Instead of gatekeepers defending the public from a corrupt government, they’ll be protecting the ministers and letting them do whatever they want.”
According to Livni, Bayit Yehudi and the Likud want “subservient” legal advisers who will allow them to legalize outposts in the West Bank and “transfer money under the table.”
“The people of Israel will rise up against this in the next election,” she warned.
Zionist Union MK Michal Biran called the proposal the “ass-kissing bill.”