Fourteen years ago, then-justice minister Yaakov Neeman - a private attorney before and after his stint in the cabinet - resigned from then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet. Neeman had a credibility problem that became an indictment. He was tried but acquitted because it was not proven that he had acted deliberately.
Ten months ago, in view of Neeman's vigorous drive to split the attorney general's position into legal advisor to the government and head of prosecution, the question arose as to where his loyalties lay. As Netanyahu's confidant, Neeman was appointed by him again last year as justice minister, under pressure by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is suspected of criminal activity.
Netanyahu had claimed he would not follow in former prime minister Ehud Olmert's footsteps, with the exception of Justice Ministry matters. Neeman was meant to continue the path forged by Daniel Friedmann, also a non-elected personal appointment, who was at loggerheads with the attorney general and state prosecutor.
Neeman failed in his attempt to have one of his preferred candidates appointed attorney general. The police's recommendation to indict Lieberman, endorsed by the state prosecutor, is lying on new attorney general Yehuda Weinstein's desk.
When he was dealing with splitting the attorney general's position, Neeman concealed from the state prosecutor and other ministry officials the full extent of his intentions and plans. Now he has once again damaged his credibility with his own statements, and the matter can no longer be left hanging in the air.
Last week Yossi Verter reported in Haaretz that Neeman said the legal counsel to the Prime Minister's Office, Shlomit Barnea-Fargo, had ruled out names of women he had proposed for the committee investigating the Turkish flotilla incident, headed by retired justice Jacob Turkel.
He made this statement at the cabinet session called to approve adding members to Turkel's committee. Barnea-Fargo issued an unequivocal denial to Neeman's claim, which has not been refuted.
Kadima MK Tzachi Hanegbi's political future is under fire because he was convicted of perjury. Two outstanding commanders, Moshe (Chico ) Tamir and Imad Fares, ended their military careers because they reported falsehoods.
The justice minister is required by law to be one of the six members of the ministers' committee for national security. He must be credible beyond a shadow of a doubt. If Neeman cannot demonstrate his credibility he must resign. If he refuses to do so, it is the responsibility of the one who appointed him, Netanyahu, to get him to do it.
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