Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein 370 (R).
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
Responding to an August 7 letter by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein,
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein used subtle language to hit back over the pace
of the Knesset’s hearings on the draft bill for integrating haredim into the IDF
and national service.
Weinstein admitted that he had told Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon that the process for
passing the bill should be pushed ahead more rapidly, even during the Knesset
Edelstein’s letter essentially said that it’s not the
attorney-general’s job to set schedules for the legislature.
The Tal Law,
which granted enlistment exemptions to the ultra-Orthodox, officially expired
last August, about six months after the High Court ruled the Knesset cannot
The government’s haredi enlistment bill was approved in its
first reading a few weeks ago, and a Knesset committee led by MK Ayelet Shaked
(Bayit Yehudi) has been holding discussions on the legislation through the
Weinstein said that he respected the Knesset’s
independence and its critical role in carefully weighing all key considerations
and performing its duties in a transparent and organized
However, he added that against the background of a High Court of
Justice hearing due to occur on Tuesday in which the petitioners are seeking
immediate drafting of thousands of haredim, “in spite of the meeting of the
special committee [Shaked Committee] even during the summer recess, I thought
that there was still room to increase the pace of the hearings to an even more
He said that he viewed it as “his duty” as the
government’s lawyer to “convey to the prime minister and the defense minister
the problems that were liable to occur” in the court proceeding if the
legislative process drew out much longer.
The attorney-general added that
he thought the best way to avoid dire consequences before the court (which he
did not specify) was to show the court the Knesset’s “intense” commitment to
wrapping up the bill.
“We’re working as hard as we can to finish
preparing the bill for its second and third readings,” Shaked said, following
Edelstein’s letter. “At the same time, I won’t give up on a serious legislative
process with a deep discussion.”
According to Shaked, “Such a serious
matter deserves our full attention and a lot of time.”
to Weinstein also said, “Once the government submits a bill to the Knesset, it
is not the job of the attorney-general or even of the prime minister or other
ministers to set the legislative schedule. That is the job of the chairman of
the relevant committee and the Knesset speaker, who sets the Knesset’s agenda
and decides when bills are brought to a vote.”
The Knesset speaker
emphasized that it is important to hold a thorough debate on every draft
bill.Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.