Neeman to reveal reform of A-G post after holidays

Neeman to reveal reform

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman is busy preparing his proposal for an overhaul of the office of the attorney-general and is expected to present it in public soon after Succot, his communications adviser, Gil Solomon, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. "He has been working on this for a long time and has invested a great deal of effort," said Solomon. "In the coming month, there will be movement on this matter." Recently, Neeman attended a panel discussion sponsored by the Israel Democracy Institute in which leading judicial figures spoke for and against the proposal to divide the responsibilities of the attorney-general into two separate positions - a legal adviser to the government and a chief state prosecutor. Neeman said at the discussion that he had learned from the spokesmen representing each position and said he would seek a solution somewhere in between the two. However, Solomon refused to elaborate. "We have many, many possibilities," he said. "If, indeed, we implement a reform, we have many options. We will have to choose from among them. We have to present a proposal which everyone can live with." Those who advocate splitting the two roles argue that there is currently too much work for one person to handle. Furthermore, they say that the attorney-general is currently caught in a conflict of interests, because at the same time that he must provide legal advice to the cabinet, he is also responsible for investigating and indicting any of its members if he suspects them of wrongdoing. Those who oppose changing the system argue that the division of the responsibilities between two separate people will weaken both functions. They are especially concerned that the split will turn the legal adviser to the government into a political appointment, since governments will prefer to work with someone who they know will be cooperative. Unless the changes envisaged by Neeman are minor, it looks like the reform will require new legislation which could take some time before it is approved by the Knesset. In the meantime, the current attorney-general, Menahem Mazuz, is nearing the end of his six-year term and a search committee headed by retired Supreme Court justice Theodor Orr is already convening to recommend his successor. According to the regulations on this matter, the committee will recommend three candidates to the cabinet, which will make the final choice. It is almost certain that the government will have to appoint Mazuz's successor before the future of the position is resolved. Therefore, candidates will have to agree to accept a job whose description they do not know and whose prerogatives might be very different from the current ones.