Stern quits race for A-G position

Stern quits race for A-G

yedidya stern 248.88 (photo credit: Israel Democracy Institute)
yedidya stern 248.88
(photo credit: Israel Democracy Institute)
Law professor Yedidya Stern announced on Wednesday that he is withdrawing his candidacy for the role of attorney-general, because he thinks the attorney-general role should be split. "I believe Israel has to change the makeup of the job of attorney-general and make it more logical, so that two people stand at its head - one a legal expert to function as prosecutor general and the other, an expert in civil and constitutional law to function as legal adviser to the government," said Stern in an interview to Army Radio. Stern said he notified Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman of his decision during a meeting the two held on Monday, after the government announced its decision not to split the post. Stern rejected a report in Haaretz that claimed he withdrew his candidacy because of a possible conflict of interest that arose from his personal relationship with Neeman. That newspaper reported that Stern and Neeman had attended ski retreats together and that Stern had been an intern in Neeman's private law office Herzog Fox & Neeman. Stern said he wasn't aware of the Haaretz report when he spoke to Neeman the day earlier and that the common history was not an issue. "There is nothing new about this ski trip," he said. "We're talking about a group of 30 or more religious families who get together to hire a kosher hotel once a year, during Hanukka. I went on the trip a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I don't see any connection between the two things." When asked if he would change his position if Neeman guaranteed that the post would be split within several months, Stern said he would. "This is a matter of principle. I don't think a person should take on a role where he possesses no comparative advantage over others in crucial parts of the job." Stern said that during his interviews before the search committee he was asked if he would be able to arrive at 800 decisions in one day. "The very fact that someone has to act in such a chaotic situation, with a medley of different issues, when each one of them touches the core of our being, teaches about the difficulty of the job," said Stern. English-born Stern is a professor at Bar-Ilan University Law School and the vice president of the Israel Democracy Institute. He studied at Harvard Law School and is currently a member of the national investigation committee charged with examining the treatment of the Gush Katif evacuees. Stern's withdrawal potentially dwindles the field of candidates down to three. They are: Zvi Agmon, Daphna Barak-Erez and Yehuda Weinstein, who each received three votes from the five-member search committee set up to fill the post. Having failed to reach a decision, the committee was dismantled and the decision fell to the government. Neeman is required to recommend one of the three to the government, but there are still voices who are calling to widen the search further and include the seven people initially examined by the search committee. Former education minister and Labor MK Yuli Tamir said she favored Barak Erez for the job. In letters to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Neeman, Tamir wrote, "Daphna Barak Erez is a worthy candidate not only because of her unusual skills and her lack of connections in government and business circles, but because she is a woman." Tamir added: "This is demanded from the Israeli government's expressed commitment to integrate women into senior positions. The current government, which has only two women out of 30 ministers, has a chance to prove that equality is not merely an empty slogan, but a guiding principle."