The two main hats worn by the attorney general, that of the head of the prosecution and that of the legal advisor to the government, do not preclude each other but rather complement each other and ensure comprehensive defense of the rule of law in Israel.
Behind Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman's assertion that combining the two functions leads to conflict of interests is the assumption that the government is corrupt and cabinet ministers are criminals. Otherwise, why would ministers have to face the attorney general as head of the prosecution?
Menachem Mazuz has had a relationship with all the government ministers in his capacity as attorney general, but only with former prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, former cabinet ministers Abraham Hirshson, Shlomo Benizri and Haim Ramon, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has he had a relationship as head of the prosecution.
Supporters of splitting the position are not defending ministers who went astray. They are not saying that the attorney general's "conflict of interests" will end the moment criminality on the part of elected officials ceases to exist. Instead of dealing with governmental corruption, the supporters of the split are proposing weakening the official who is supposed to deal with it.
Supporters of the split also claim that because of a "conflict of interests" Mazuz should have left the decision as to whether to indict Olmert to his successor. Here, it is already not a matter of a "conflict of interests" between the attorney general's two hats, but rather a matter of a conflict that touches only upon his role as head of the prosecution: The person who interrogated Olmert and considered the question of whether or not to file an indictment against him cannot be the one to decide the matter, because of the very fact that he did the investigating.
This ridiculous argument shows that all means on the way to destroying the attorney general's independence are legitimate in the hands of interested parties who want to protect governmental corruption and make it an established thing.
Splitting the functions is the first step on the way to achieving two improper goals: weakening the attorney general so that his interpretation of the law will not be binding on government ministers, and a political takeover of the prosecution by appointing a prosecutor general who is "one of us" and will refrain from bringing criminal cabinet ministers to justice.
Former Supreme Court president and attorney general Meir Shamgar has said the attorney general is the main axis of the war on criminality and corruption. His authority should remain as it is, and Mazuz's successor should be left to continue the worthy path of the current attorney general.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now