Shaked mulls splitting attorney-general job into two

By
August 4, 2015 15:49

If Shaked decides on the controversial move, the attorney-general's sole job would be to serve as the government's legal adviser.

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Ayelet Shaked, nouvelle ministre de la Justice

Ayelet Shaked, nouvelle ministre de la Justice. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is considering removing responsibility for the State Attorney’s Office from the attorney-general’s job, she wrote in a letter to retired Supreme Court president Asher Grunis, chairman of the committee to find candidates for attorney-general, on Monday.

If Shaked decides on the controversial move, the attorney- general’s sole job would be to serve as the government’s legal adviser and not be responsible for prosecution. The split fits with Shaked’s position that legal advisers have an outsize influence on the government and prevent ministers from putting forward important policies.

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Shaked officially asked Grunis to call the committee to recommend three candidates for the job, adding in the letter: “I would like to let the committee members know that I am considering splitting the attorney-general’s authority.”

The candidates for the next attorney-general will have to be qualified for both aspects of the job, but will have to reach an understanding with Shaked that she or he will work on the bill to split its responsibilities.

Shaked is not the first justice minister to propose dividing up the job; Daniel Friedmann and Ya’acov Ne’eman did the same and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supported it at first, but changed his mind after meeting fierce opposition from Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein and senior members of the judiciary.

The committee to find candidates for attorney-general consists of Grunis, former ambassador to the UN and law professor Gavriella Shalev, MK Anat Berko (Likud), Yehiel Katz representing the Bar Association, and former justice minister Moshe Nissim representing the government.

Some of the likely candidates for the position are cabinet secretary and former IDF advocate- general Avihai Mandelblit, a close ally of Netanyahu, and the ombudsman for the State Attorney’s Office, retired judge Hila Gerstel.

Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said Shaked is trying to make those with political power above the law.

“The attorney-general’s double job is meant to put lawbreakers on trial and prevent ministers from breaking the law while doing their job,” Gal-On said. “Splitting the jobs could create a situation in which the state attorney agrees to defend the state to the Supreme Court against the attorney-general’s advice, making a mockery of the law.”


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