By DAN IZENBERG
During a meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the five-man search committee for a new attorney-general on Monday, Netanyahu said that he did not endorse Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman's proposal to split the attorney-general's responsibilities into two positions, Israel Radio reported. Neeman envisions two new positions with separate obligations, the first being legal adviser to the government and the second chief prosecutor.
The prime minister stressed that the incoming attorney-general's term would be in the current format. However, the prime minister's final decision on Neeman's proposal would take "much more time," as would its possible implementation, should the position be altered in accordance with Neeman's recommendations.
Netanyahu then urged the committee to agree on candidates as soon as possible, as the current attorney-general is scheduled to leave the position at the end of the upcoming January.
Neeman was quoted by Israel Radio as saying that the division of the attorney-general's authorities will be agreed upon with the prime minister, and brought to discussion with approval possible only after choosing the new attorney-general.
The committee is currently deadlocked, unable to agree on any candidates.
One member of the committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he expected the meeting with Netanyahu to be little more than a formality.
Afterwards, however, the committee members will reconvene to propose new candidates beyond the 11 they have already considered.
A minimum majority of four members is required to nominate a candidate whose name will be presented to the minister of justice and the cabinet for final consideration. The panel must come up with three such nominees.
The committee split on the original 11 candidates. Two panel members, MK Yariv Levin (Likud) and former Justice Minister Moshe Nissim insisted on nominating Jerusalem District Court Judge Noam Sohlberg or attorney Yehuda Weinstein. The other three members, retired Supreme Court Justice Theodore Orr, attorney Eyal Rozovsky and Prof. Eyal Benvenisti, rejected both candidates outright.
The split in the committee is seen as one between Left and Right (Nissim was also a Likud MK and minister). Those on the left regard Neeman himself as a right-winger and therefore fear that he will automatically choose the nominee proposed by the right-wing committee members. They insist, therefor, that all three candidates be acceptable to them.
But it is not easy to find candidates acceptable to at least four of the committee members.
So far, several names have been mentioned as possibilities, including that of Tel Aviv District Court President Dvora Berliner, a former candidate for the Supreme Court.
The trick, said the committee member, is not only to find three names acceptable to at least four of the committee members, but to find three names acceptable to at least four committee members who are willing to accept the job.
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