Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Israel Bar Association’s president, Doron Barzilai, publicly attacked its National Council for “political kidnapping” for trying to preemptively appoint the Bar’s representative to the committee that will select the next attorney-general, before the council’s new members are appointed.
Barzilai’s public attack and letter to the council came before a major meeting on the issue that was set for late Sunday night.
The appointment of the next attorney-general, to succeed Yehuda Weinstein, is not scheduled until February 2016, a point Barzilai noted in arguing that there is no logical need to select the Bar’s representative so far in advance.
In Barzilai’s letter to council head Hava Kalmafrar-Martziki requesting that she not allow the issue of the Bar’s representative go to a vote either Sunday night or at any time before new members are appointed to the council, he also called the process “improper management.”
Barzilai said that “inclusion of this item [voting on the representative] in the agenda, in the way it was done, raises great surprise, is not consistent with proper management, is deficient from the public perspective,” and gave off “the odor of an attempt to perpetrate a political kidnapping prior to the elections for the [Bar]’s institutions.”
The Bar’s president also pointed out that other members of the committee for selecting the next attorney- general are not due to be appointed for another six months.
Further, he said that much of that process and the attorney- general selection process is run by the sitting justice minister – a post that is currently vacant pending the formation of the country’s next coalition government after Tuesday’s national election.
Without a sitting justice minister, Barzilai said, there is not even an address for any committee or representative for the committee to make contact with.
Finally, Barzilai said that the council’s move to decide on its representative raised questions of inappropriate actions, since the Bar’s own elections will take place in around three months, and the newly elected council members should decide the Bar’s representative for selecting the attorney-general.
The selection committee for the attorney-general includes: a former supreme court justice, a former justice minister, a Knesset representative, a Bar representative and a representative from academia.
Once four out of five members of the committee vote for a candidate, the justice minister is supposed to nominate that candidate for the government to approve, but Weinstein was appointed solely by former justice minister Yaakov Neeman when the committee could not agree on a candidate (though Weinstein was among four leading candidates with three votes.)