New interim justice minister Netanyahu to be taken to court

A source close to Netanyahu said he needed “another day or two” to decide on the appointment.

June 4, 2019 23:32
2 minute read.
New interim justice minister Netanyahu to be taken to court

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelblit (R) during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. (photo credit: MENAHEM KAHANA / REUTERS)

The Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel will petition the High Court of Justice on Wednesday against the prime minister for remaining acting justice minister in violation of the attorney-general’s legal advice.

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he could not be acting justice minister because of the public corruption charges he faces in three cases. KAN reported that Mandelblit gave Netanyahu “one day – maximum” to hold the sensitive post.

A source close to Netanyahu said he needed “another day or two” to decide on the appointment.

Netanyahu automatically became acting justice minister and acting education minister at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, when his firing of Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett took effect.

While the Education portfolio will wait for a reshuffle of cabinet ministries next week, the Justice Ministry is more urgent due to Mandelblit’s decision. Candidates for interim justice minister include Likud ministers Yariv Levin and Ze’ev Elkin, deputy minister Tzipi Hotovely and MK Amir Ohana. One of them will become acting justice minister during the transition period until after the September 17 repeat election when a new coalition is formed that can approve a permanent justice minister.

In her parting speech at the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem, Shaked said she “definitely plans on returning” to the post in the future.

“I changed the DNA of the legal establishment,” she said.

Shaked’s main point was that she had started an irreversible conservative counter-revolution to quash what she had described as a judicial activist revolution started by former chief justice Aharon Barak in the mid-1990s.

The outgoing justice minister said that the “train” of the legislative branch asserting its superiority relative to the judicial branch had left the station.

She said she had planned to continue her revolution for another four years, but that even now that she would not have that opportunity, the changes she made over the last four years were so significant that a future justice minister could not undo them.

During her term, Shaked appointed hundreds of new judges, including 40% of the current sitting Supreme Court, with many new appointees being more conservative than past appointees.

Shaked still struggled with the Supreme Court ruling against government policies multiple times on the African migrants’ issue and some other issues, but on Tuesday she said that the direction of the court and of the justice ministry were far more conservative.

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit and State Attorney Shai Nitzan both complimented Shaked on seriously investing in the role of justice minister despite lacking a formal legal background.

Both admitted to having different opinions than her on a variety of policy matters, but also said that she was a fair negotiator who was willing to reach sensible compromises.

They added that even where no compromise was reached, she always addressed them with the attitude of respectfully agreeing to disagree, noting also that she defended them from personal attacks from politicians, even when that defense was politically unpopular.

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