Government to limit term of ministry legal advisers

Government to limit term

The Knesset Law Committee on Tuesday debated a bill aimed at limiting the term of office of legal advisers to the government ministries. The bill was drafted by MKs Moshe Gafni and Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) and triggered a major controversy because the initiators proposed giving ministers the right to fire their legal advisers, after consulting with the Civil Service Commissioner and receiving cabinet approval, if they were dissatisfied with their performance . The bill also limited the term of office of the ministry legal advisers to six years, and called for the dismissal of all serving legal advisers within one year unless the minister decided to appoint the adviser to a new, six-year term. The bill was originally approved on July 12 by the Ministerial Legislation Committee and its chairman, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman. However it triggered harsh criticism that the government was trying to politicize the position of legal adviser. At a stormy meeting the following week, the cabinet decided to abolish the provision authorizing the minister to fire his legal adviser and calling on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to prepare a new proposal. During Tuesday's meeting, Gafni told the committee that all that was left of his original proposal was the article limiting the term of the legal adviser to one term of six years. However, Deputy Attorney-General Malchiel Blass told the MKs that a committee headed by former justice ministry and Foreign Ministry director-general Aharon Abramovich had studied the entire question of the status of the ministry legal advisers, and had come down in favor of one term of seven years with no possibility of renewal. Blass said he was still trying to solve the financial issues involved in such an arrangement so that the government could attract the best possible candidates. No talented attorney would take the job under current circumstances, because after seven years, he would have to find a new job somewhere else, and would receive only a small pension for the years he served as legal adviser, said Blass. Blass estimated that the financial questions would be resolved within 60 days. However, Law Committee chairman David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu Party) demanded that Blass update the committee not only on the matter of the length of the term but on all the recommendations presented by the Abramovich Committee to the government.