Gov't may scale back Turkel's term following A-G criticism

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein says stricter term limits would guarantee more independence.

Netanyahu and Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Netanyahu and Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The government on Wednesday committed to propose legislation within six months that would scale back the term length of the Turkel Committee, responsible on overseeing senior public appointments, and limiting future appointments to one term only.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein said the government’s decision was a response to his warnings that such commissions should be limited.
On Monday, the government granted the committee members a third term whereas previously, such committees could at most serve two terms, a first term and one extension.
Weinstein said that stricter term limits would guarantee more independence for a committee that is “the gatekeeper” for top government officials, since members would know that their decisions would not be able to ingratiate them with the government to gain additional terms.
The committee has been in the spotlight in recent weeks as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid have attempted, thus far unsuccessfully, to install a new Bank of Israel governor to replace Stanley Fischer, who stepped down in June.
The first nominee, former governor Jacob Frenkel, stepped down over allegations that he shoplifted a garment bag from the Hong Kong airport Duty Free shop in 2006.
Although he says the whole incident was a misunderstanding, his failure to disclose the event to the Turkel Committee caused him further problems, and he eventually withdrew his nomination amid the public hubub.
The second nominee, Leo Leiderman, withdrew his candidacy after just two days, apparently fearing a similar treatment or public revelation.
Reports surfaced that the government would take a new tack by submitting a list of several candidates to the committee for vetting before choosing a nominee. A list of several new candidates popped up in the media as possible third nominees, including Argentina’s former central banker Mario Blejer, former Bank of Israel deputy governor Zvi Eckstein, former Bank Mizrahi CEO Victor Medina, and current Finance Ministry accountant-general Michal Abadi-Boiangiu.
Though Blejer was thought of as the front-runner, Globes reported that Netanyahu’s aides favored Eckstein, and that Medina had also requested to submit forms to the Turkel Committee.