Yehuda Weinstein was chosen as attorney general thanks to his varied experience, including some as a prosecutor in the 1970s and much as a defense attorney for public figures. Weinstein indeed brought to his lofty position, and few are loftier, the viewpoint of the defense attorney. He may not be expected to sign indictments lightly.
When he took up his post, he found waiting for him a police recommendation to indict Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Weinstein deliberated and weighed the matter and in the end he decided in favor of a serious indictment, including among its charges breach of trust and money laundering.
In theory, this is a conditional decision, because in a hearing before Weinstein, Lieberman and his attorneys might be able to persuade the attorney general that such things never happened, or that they were not criminal. They may also be able to persuasively argue that no judge will be impressed by the evidence in the file to the point of conviction.
In fact, working against the decision being overturned in a hearing is the long and even exaggerated delay in making the decision, and the defense attorney's eye ingrained in prosecutor Weinstein.
And so the situation is that the potentially accused Lieberman retains the presumption of innocence, as a citizen who has until now only been a suspect. However, it is also inconceivable for the State of Israel to be represented internationally by a person who's seen by his own general prosecution as a serial fraudster, a cheat, a money launderer and a harasser of witnesses who planned and carried out, for years and across continents, a series of offenses punishable by a long prison term.
During the past two decades, since the indictments against former minister Aryeh Deri and former deputy minister Rafael Pinhasi, the custom in Israel has been that cabinet ministers resign their post if the attorney general decides to indict them.
Not later, when convicted, but not sooner, while the police are investigating and the prosecution is discussing. The middle phase, the hearing, in terms of a right and not an obligation of the candidate for indictment, allows the minister to retain his or her place in the cabinet.
But it is more proper in this context to emulate former Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson, who resigned during his investigation.
With the cloud of Weinstein's decision hanging over Lieberman, it is not proper for him to continue serving as deputy prime minister and foreign minister.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now