Neeman hints he has PM's support to split A-G's functions

Neeman hints he has PMs

November 2, 2009 23:38
2 minute read.

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman said Monday he would bring his proposal to split the powers of the current attorney-general to the cabinet within two weeks and hinted that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu supported his proposal. "I am working in complete coordination with the prime minister," Neeman told reporters at the Justice Ministry. Neeman also announced that according to his proposal, parts of which would eventually be turned into law, the advice of the legal adviser to the government will be binding on all of the ministers unless the High Court of Justice rules otherwise. Neeman's plan to create two separate posts, a legal adviser to the government and a chief criminal prosecutor, requires Netanyahu's support. The prime minister has reportedly been worried about a coalition crisis with the Labor Party, which rejected Neeman's proposal and demanded that a public committee be established to consider the issue. Netanyahu has yet to state his position in public. When asked whether Netanyahu had come out in favor of Neeman's plan, the justice minister replied, "Ask the prime minister." However, a source close to Neeman told The Jerusalem Post it was clear that Netanyahu knew about the briefing and the fact that the minister of justice was about to present his plan in public for the first time. Neeman also made it clear he would not agree to establish a public committee as the Labor Party and many others, including three former attorneys-general, Meir Shamgar, Aharon Barak and Yitzhak Zamir, have urged. "The issue of what the attorney-general's powers will be is urgent," he told reporters. "We don't need a committee just to bury the matter." Meanwhile, in a phone conversation with the Post, former Supreme Court president Meir Shamgar declined to comment on Neeman's announcement, but reiterated his well-known position that creating two separate positions would weaken both of them. Others have accused Neeman of deliberately trying to weaken the rule of law by splitting the job in two. But Neeman argued that his plan would strengthen both positions and make a substantial contribution to the war on crime. "The current position of the attorney-general is not built to deal with the enforcement of criminal law in Israel," he said. "He is responsible for many matters, he is in charge of civil affairs and advises the government. But there is no one in charge of criminal affairs. I suggest upgrading the position of the person who deals with law enforcement. We need a chief of staff for the war against crime." Neeman stressed that the chief prosecutor would be chosen by a public and apolitical body, headed by a retired Supreme Court president or justice to be appointed by the current court president. The two other members would be a former justice minister who has not been politically active for five years appointed by the current minister, and a former attorney-general, state-attorney or public defender, who would be appointed by the Supreme Court president in consultation with the defense minister.

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