yaakov neeman new .
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi )
Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman announced on Thursday that he is recommending attorney Yehuda Weinstein for the position of attorney-general. Neeman notified Prime Minister Netanyahu of his recommendation and will formally present it to the government in Sunday's cabinet meeting.
Neeman's office released a statement saying that Neeman had chosen Weinstein after examining the notes of the search committee, checking into the recommendations and conducting personal meetings with all of the candidates.
"The justice minister considers all the candidates recommended by the attorney-general search committee - including Professor Yedidya Stern, who withdrew his candidacy - worthy candidates for the job. However, after serious examination of the issue, he is convinced that attorney Yehuda Weinstein is the most suitable candidate for these times, in which there is a vital need to strengthen the rule of law and the enforcement authorities and to battle crime, because of his rich experience, which includes a variety of legal positions in both public and private practice," read the statement.
Justice Ministry sources say Neeman was seesawing between two candidates, Weinstein and Stern, but after Stern announced on Wednesday that he was backing out of the race, Weinstein became the preferred candidate.
Weinstein is considered one of the top criminal lawyers in Israel and has represented some of Israel's biggest names, among them Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, former president Ezer Weizman and former Shas chairman Aryeh Deri. He also joined former prime minister Ehud Olmert's defense team, working on the Rishon Tours double billing case and on the Talansky affair.
Weinstein, who is 65 years old, started his legal career in the state prosecutor's office. In 1979 he left public service and opened a private law office, where he went on to argue some of the most high profile cases in Israel's legal history.
Weinstein competed for the office of attorney-general once before, in 2004, but withdrew his candidacy before the final decision was made and Menahem Mazuz was chosen.
The decision to nominate a candidate for the role of attorney-general fell to Neeman after a special five-person search committee failed to agree on a single candidate within the allotted time and ended up proposing four candidates narrowed down from a list of 11.
The list shrunk further when Stern, a law professor from Bar-Ilan University backed out of the race, citing the decision not to split the attorney-general position as the reason for his withdrawal.
The remaining candidates were criminal lawyer Zvi Agmon and law professor Daphna Barak-Erez.
Weinstein comes highly recommended. Among his references are three former justice ministers - Yossi Beilin, David Libai and Moshe Nissim.
The cabinet will have a week to decide on whether or not to accept Neeman's recommendation, but estimates are that Weinstein's nomination will face little resistance. The term of the current attorney-general, Menahem Mazuz, ends January 31.
The head of the Israel Bar Association, attorney Yuri Guy-Ron, congratulated Weinstein on his selection, saying he was a worthy choice for one of the most central and influential posts in the legal system.
"Yehuda Weinstein is a foremost expert in criminal law, a leading defense lawyer for many years and a former state prosecutor. He is the right candidate for this time, when there is a need to strengthen the rule of law and to fight corruption and rising crime rates," said Guy-Ron.