Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked on Tuesday made her most direct call yet on new Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to avoid government interference on executive actions.
“In recent years, there has been legal-adviser activism that harmed the work of the government and I really hope that the new attorney- general will show greater restraint and help the government to implement its policies,” Shaked said in a speech to the 13th annual Jerusalem Conference.
Under Yehuda Weinstein, Mandelblit’s predecessor who stepped down last week, there was constant friction between the Attorney-General’s Office and Shaked over how often lawyers told politicians that actions they wanted to take were illegal.
Weinstein and most of the Justice Ministry believe that the Netanyahu governments over the last six years have, at times, exceeded their authority and refused to defend certain new policies.
Shaked and many politicians, however, believe government lawyers, for the most part, should facilitate their policies unless the courts strike them down.
Shaked’s statement came in response to a question about interventions by the High Court of Justice toward government policy – another of her pet peeves.
A spokeswoman for Mandelblit’s office declined to comment directly on Shaked’s speech, but made reference to Mandelblit’s acceptance speech, which emphasized both sides of the debate while noting the attorney-general’s independence and also stating that law is not a purpose in and of itself, but one tool for realizing the will of the public.
Overall, Mandelblit is viewed as slightly closer to Shaked’s view of the proper balance between legal advisers and ministers, but is still expected to sometimes disappoint her and other ministers on the issue.
Shaked later commented on the suspension of Balad MKs for two to four months from certain aspects of the Knesset for observing a moment of silence in solidarity with families of terrorists in the recent wave of attacks.
Arguing that the suspensions were too lenient, she stated that the Knesset Ethics Committee must be empowered to dole out harsher punishments and expressed support for banning Balad MKs from running for Knesset, though she opposes allowing Knesset members to expel other MKs once elected.