In an unusually stormy Knesset Control Committee meeting on Tuesday, former justice minister Haim Ramon slammed as “farcical” and “ridiculous” the attorney general’s plans for a body to audit the State Attorney’s Office.
former justice minister Daniel Friedmann, Ramon, who was himself formerly a
justice minister, called on Knesset to pass legislation to establish an external
body to audit the prosecution.
Committee chairman MK Uri Ariel (National
Union) had convened the meeting to discuss proposals by the Attorney-General
Yehuda Weinstein, and current Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman to establish a body
within the Justice Ministry to oversee the prosecution.
quickly turned into calls for a law to establish an external audit body,
however, as Ramon and Friedmann delivered damning criticisms of the justice
Neeman, who also took part in the hearing, objected to the calls
by his two predecessors to advance legislation to establish the
Meanwhile, Ariel said the committee would reconvene to discuss a
bill to anchor the audit body in legislation.
In a loud, colorful and
impassioned speech, Ramon slammed plans by Weinstein and Neeman to set up the
audit body. That body would “stink” in the absence of a “law with teeth” to
regulate it, Ramon said.
Ramon blasted proposals that Weinstein himself
would be responsible for overseeing the internal audit unit.
that under Weinstein’s proposals, the body would not be anchored in legislation
and – at least not in its initial phase – would not examine public complaints
against the prosecution.
The former justice minister said that only a law
passed by Knesset could ensure the prosecution would be audited
In a dramatic moment, Ramon hinted that he had been ousted from
office in 2006 after suggesting passing such a law.
“Probably because of
that I very quickly ceased to be the justice minister,” Ramon said.
resigned as justice minister after then-attorney-general Menachem Mazuz decided
to indict him regarding an IDF officer who complained Ramon had kissed her
against her will.
In 2010, Ramon called for a criminal investigation in
the wake of a damning report by then-state comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss into
the so-called “Ramon affair,” which slammed both the police and prosecution for
their conduct in indicting the former justice minister for indecent assault.
Lindenstrauss’s report singled out senior officials, including Tel Aviv District
Attorney Ruth David.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Ramon blasted the way the
prosecution had handled cases involving senior political figures, including
foreign minister Avigdor Liberman.
“The people issue verdicts regarding
the officials they elect,” Ramon said. “But the prosecution denies the people’s
verdicts, and there is nobody to answer to this.”
Ramon said that in his
case, “three district court judges ruled separately that the prosecuting
attorney had shown gross negligence bordering on malice, and yet nobody was
Friedmann, Ramon’s immediate successor in the Justice
Ministry, agreed, noting it was very easy to press charges against a justice
minister, but somewhat harder to do the same against an
Friedmann said that the body to audit the prosecution
must have powers to bring disciplinary procedures against everyone, including
“In the Ramon affair, a thorough investigation of
the negligence claims was stopped, when at the same time there is no problem
investigating the prime minister and ministers,” he added.
Ministry deputy director Ronen Gurewitz told the meeting that the Civil Service
Commission agreed the structure of the audit body three weeks ago, and the
government would soon launch a tender to appoint a head.
others at the meeting also voiced criticisms of the state attorney’s
MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima) complained that there are innocent
people sitting in prison because of the prosecution, but did not say who those
people might be.
“We, as Knesset members, must make their voices heard,”
Yitzhak Shafrir, representing families evacuated from Gush
Katif during the disengagement, also spoke out, saying that the state attorney’s
office had dragged its feet for eight years over the Evacuation Compensation
Law, but as members of the public there was nobody to whom they could
After the meeting, the Justice Ministry said the attorney
general had previously presented his plans for the audit body to the Control
Committee, and that the ministry was now dealing with setting it up.
new unit, named the Audit Unit for the Prosecution and Representation in the
Courts, will be run by a jurist familiar with the prosecution’s work but not
directly connected to the state attorney’s office, a ministry spokesman
Tuesday’s Control Committee debate came after Weinstein informed
the Knesset in April that he planned to establish an internal audit unit within
the Justice Ministry, that would oversee the prosecution.
that eventually – but not initially – the new unit would look into complaints
from the public.
Earlier this month, Justice Ministry Director General
Dr. Guy Rotkopf said that establishing the new unit, including recruiting
its director, would take around four months, and that therefore the unit should
be up and running in October.