Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun )
Weinstein’s legacy took a turn for the worse with the resounding defeat of his
flagship case against Yisrael Beytenu party leader (and soon to be back as
Foreign Minister) Avigdor Liberman, who was acquitted on all charges on
This was not the first big decision Weinstein had to make for
which he took criticism.
In one rare instance, some called Weinstein
overly aggressive in nixing Maj- Gen. (res.) Yoav Galant’s candidacy to replace
(res.) Gabi Ashkenazi as IDF chief of staff over possible
perjury and obstruction of justice allegations.
But mostly Weinstein has
been accused of being too timid, slow and soft, which came from the impression
that he, a career defense lawyer, was appointed in order to soften the
Many in the prosecution, along with many commentators,
slammed him for deciding to close the multi-million dollar money-laundering case
against Liberman in December 2012, after years of investigations and
For each fact that Weinstein found imperfect in the case,
making an argument for closing it, State Attorney Moshe Lador had an alternate
reading which would support filing the case.
For example, Weinstein
thought the case could not overcome the fact that the main witness against
Liberman in the money-laundering case, “Daniella,” who resides in Cyprus and
allegedly managed much of the finances of the companies under investigation,
changed her testimony, which was against Liberman, to saying that she did not
Lador believed that her change of heart was so
noncredible that it would only enhance the credibility of her original story,
that allegedly would have damaged Liberman’s case significantly.
Weinstein made the decision to close the case, he faced criticism for dragging
it out for nearly three years from when his predecessor Menahem Mazuz said in
2009 he was almost ready to indict Liberman.
Weinstein was hit hard also
for disregarding former state comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss’s recommendation
to criminally investigate former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi in the Harpaz
Affair. The attorney-general only relented nearly a year later when Military
Advocate-General Maj.- Gen. Danny Efroni effectively strong-armed him into
investigating Ashkenazi by suggesting he would indict Ashkenazi if Weinstein did
But all of these cases in some way started or originated with
Weinstein “owned” the Belarus Ambassador Affair case when
he decided to indict Liberman on it and separate it from the money-laundering
case of which it was originally just a subcomponent.
It was his chance to
show those who had called him weak-kneed and too much of a defense lawyer that
he could be tough, and that he was a better lawyer than them by only fighting
the battle that was a winner (as opposed to the money-laundering case, which he
considered a losing case). But then he lost his “more winnable” case and lost
big, making an appeal a precarious option. He forced a Foreign Minister out of
his post with nothing to show for it.
Unless Weinstein wracks up a major
victory in the future, his legacy may show him as being not just too timid, but
also not having the right judgment to pick between a winning or losing
That judgment may or may not be consistent and fair, but as
Weinstein said in a speech – his job is not to seek popularity.
gets a big win in the second half of his six-year term, he will not need to
worry about winning the popularity contest.