Lieberman with flag 248 88 aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])
After Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that a final decision concerning Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman's proposal to split the functions of the attorney-general would only be made after several months, a debate erupted on Monday and Tuesday among officials and MKs, some of whom saw the prime minister's announcement as a rejection of the initiative Neeman had so steadfastly promoted.
Netanyahu told the members of the Attorney-General Search Committee that he was still studying Neeman's proposal to appoint a legal adviser to the government and a separate chief prosecutor, but that a replacement should be chosen for current Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz.
Neeman's supporters, however, said that despite his disappointment, he would push his proposal forward until a final decision was made. "From his point of view, the last word has not yet been said," Justice Ministry sources told Army Radio. Other sources involved in the process suggested that Netanyahu was using deferral as a tactic for rejection. "We know the drill," they told the radio station.
Although Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman expressed his support for the prime minister's "wise" decision, Israel Radio suggested on Tuesday morning that it was a cause for concern for him.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak asserted on Monday that the postponement was "a clear victory" for those who had opposed the proposed split.
Lieberman, meanwhile, hinted at a coalition crisis during a press conference, saying that there was no shortage of "liars, idiots and contemptible people" in the Knesset.
During the press conference, the foreign minister accused religious MKs of swaying Netanyahu to invest in yeshivot instead of giving financial assistance to olim.
MK Menachem Moses (United Torah Judaism) suggested in a Channel 1 interview that Lieberman might have been targeting the religious factions, but that the prime minister's decision to keep the functions of the attorney-general as they were was the root cause of the foreign minister's apparent anger.
Netanyahu's decision, one source told Israel Radio, meant that Mazuz's replacement would have the authority to file an indictment against Lieberman. The source stated that the foreign minister's ill temper probably stemmed from the prime minister's decision, adding that in the current political climate, it was unclear whether an indictment would be filed by Mazuz or by his replacement, if it was filed at all.
It must be noted, said the source, that the senior law officials involved in the decision-making process considered the proposed split to be an issue of principle, not of personal gain, but that the process had nevertheless turned into a "reality show."
Dan Izenberg contributed to this report