Ayelet Shaked holds introductory press conference at the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: NOAM MOSKOVICH)
Avichai Mandelblit may have been Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s pick as the next attorney-general.
Despite that, she announced Wednesday that she will press to scrap the current process in which a non-political selection committee picks the candidate, in order to return the appointment power to the justice minister.
While recognizing the value of “necessary regulation, there is great importance in cleaning away over-regulation.”
Former justice minister Tzipi Livni responded critically, stating, “we need to move in the opposite direction” from what Shaked suggests.
“The advisory committee should be expanded, and add more professional members – the choice of the attorney-general does not need to be changed into a political appointment of the minister.”
Until 2000, the justice minister essentially selected the attorney-general with the cabinet giving final approval.
However, in the late 1990s, there were accusations that the attorney-general process was too hijacked by politics.
The infamous example was “the Bar-On Affair,” with accusations that Shas party leader Arye Deri improperly tried to use coalition threats to get Roni Bar-On appointed attorney-general with the hope that Bar-On would grant him a plea bargain regarding charges pending against him.
Following that fiasco, the Meir Shamgar Commission recommended the current, free-from-politics selection committee, which has made recommendations to the justice minister and the cabinet ever since, including with Mandelblit.
But Shaked said the current method is no longer working and that the pre-2000 concerns of politics are now protected against in other ways.
The justice minister cited Weinstein’s failed approval process in which the committee failed to agree on a single candidate and then-justice minister Yaakov Neeman selected Weinstein among the finalists being considered.
She also cited the current committee’s failure to provide her three possible candidates to choose from after she had requested that.
The committee said only Mandelblit won support from at least four of the five committee members, enough to be recommended for the job.
In terms of alternative safeguards against politicization of the appointment, Shaked mentioned the Turkel Commission for vetting senior government appointments and increased involvement of the courts.
Former IDF Brig.- Gen. Gal Hirsch’s derailed appointment as the nominee for police chief showed that these new procedures will prevent politicization, argued Shaked.
Part of Shaked’s view on eliminating the selection committee related to a broader opinion that currently the government is over-regulated, and that some deregulation must take place to allow the executive branch to act more efficiently, both in appointments and generally.
The justice minister also blasted the state prosecution for intervening in the appointment of Dr. Maya Forman to a Health Ministry position.
The state prosecution has been accused of trying to block Forman getting the position because she did not cooperate with its conclusions on forensic issues in the Tair Rada murder case.
Shaked said that “over-legalization had harmed the process and Dr. Forman.”
In that context, she continued to promote the office of the oversight czar over the state prosecution, returning to her promise to soon promote Knesset legislation to reform the office and finalize a compromise regarding its powers to end a dispute between the oversight czar and the prosecution.