Gov't task force to examine term limits for legal advisers

The government on Sunday appointed a special task force to consider how to go about limiting the tenure of ministerial legal advisers. The task force will have two months to come up with a proposal. The key issue which has to be resolved is how to deal with the legal advisers currently in office. Two weeks ago, the Ministerial Law Committee approved a private member's bill sponsored by United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni to limit the term of office of the legal adviser to six years. Regarding legal advisers currently serving, the bill called for allowing them remain in their jobs for only one more year. Gafni also wanted a provision allowing ministers to dismiss their legal advisers if there were chronic disagreements between them. But four ministers balked at this provision and demanded that the cabinet plenum reconsider the matter. Last week the cabinet agreed to drop the provision in order to give the legal advisers more autonomy without fear of losing their jobs. Even so, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz was not satisfied with last week's decision. In an opinion which he submitted to the cabinet for Sunday's meeting, Mazuz wrote, "The bill contains a list of far-reaching provisions which are, in my opinion, absolutely unreasonable. One of them is the provision regarding the ending of the tenure of the legal advisers in the government ministries within a period of up to one year (even if they were appointed to their jobs only recently), and also those provisions which, taken together, result in the absolute politicization of the position." Mazuz also wrote that the government had already approved the recommendations of committees established to consider limiting the terms of office of senior civil servants, including a special committee specifically devoted to the issue of the ministerial legal advisers. The committee had suggested limiting the term of office of legal advisers to seven years. Furthermore, the government appointed committees to consider the details of the new arrangement, including what to do about those senior civil servants and legal advisers currently serving. Mazuz told the ministers the issue of what to do about those legal advisers currently serving "raises questions and problems that are not insubstantial, and requires a careful and scrupulous examination."