State Attorney Moshe Lador is sorry that his letter has aroused more gossip than attention to the issues he raised, a source who asked for anonymity said Wednesday.
Lador, he said, had hoped that the discussion the letter triggered would have been about the alleged problems and threat to the rule of law emanating from the reform that Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman announced on Monday.
The reform involves splitting the functions of the attorney-general into two separate positions and splitting the State Attorney's Office into two separate institutions, one dealing with criminal matters, to be headed by a chief prosecutor, and the other dealing with civil and administrative affairs, to be headed by the new government legal adviser.
The gossip the source was referring to was the reports that Neeman, who strongly reprimanded Lador after receiving the letter, would fire him. Those reports were denied by Neeman himself on Wednesday.
But the source close to Lador said the reprimand itself was worrying because in it, Neeman had compared Lador's public letter to that of a general who criticizes the defense minister in public or a senior police officer who criticizes the public security minister.
"Neeman treated Lador as if he were an ordinary clerk who is directly subordinate to the minister," the source said. "This is not true of Lador or Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz, who do not answer to the minister."
The source said that in releasing the letter to the public, Lador knew that it would cause controversy. But he added that many staffers in the State Attorney's Office said afterwards they were proud of Lador because he had shown great courage in speaking out against the plan which was being developed "in such a strange way."
The source also denied Neeman's statement that he had discussed the
overhaul with Lador and Mazuz in detail.
"It's true that Neeman raised the subject, but he did so in a vague way and without providing details," the source said.
Lador is due to return from the US by the end of the week and will be back at work on Sunday. But among the questions that need answers is not only whether Neeman will fire Lador, but what Lador will do if Neeman chooses to ignore his letter and the cabinet approves his proposal.
In another development, the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel filed a
complaint against Lador with the Civil Service commissioner and asked
him to bring the state attorney before a disciplinary court for speaking out
against the minister's plan and attacking him in public.
Former Civil Service commissioner Avraham Friedman told The Jerusalem Post that the question of whether sanctions should be taken against Lador was a complex one.
There is no question that disciplinary action would be required against an
ordinary civil servant who criticized the minister and ministerial policy in
public, he said.
But is not so obvious in the case of Lador, who is a senior official that does not require permission from the ministry to talk to the media and express his views in public.
Furthermore, Lador belongs to a limited number of civil servants in the government who do not have to answer to the political echelon.
Friedman added that in most cases, even civil servants of Lador's status should not criticize ministerial decisions.
"But in exceptional cases, where a black flag flies above it, criticism of the minister in public may be justified," he said. The question is whether or not Neeman's plan is one of these exceptional cases.
Friedman said Neeman and Lador should try to find a compromise. Both of them had acted aggressively, he added, and suggested that the prime minister mediate between them.