The justice minister is above the attorney general in the administrative hierarchy, but he does not have the authority to instruct him in matters of indictment. Any discussion by him on subjects that fall under the authority of the attorney general creates an appearance of improper influence.
Professor Ze'ev Segal is the senior legal commentator for Haaretz newspaper, and a member of its editorial board. His articles focus on Supreme Court judgments and legal issues of vital public importance.
An associate professor of law at Tel Aviv University, Segal is also an observer on The Israeli Press Council, chairperson of the Israel Diaspora Forum at the World Zionist Organization and co-chairperson of the Forum of Law and Society. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a PhD in Law from Tel Aviv University.
Segal is the author of five books on law, including The Right to Know in the Light of the Freedom of Information Act, and Freedom of the Press: Between Myth and Reality.
Last week, a seemingly important milestone was recorded in the way Supreme Court justices are chosen. The judicial selection committee released a list of 15 candidates to the High Court.
The investigation and indictment of attorney Liora Glatt-Berkowitz for leaking information on the affair of the loan Cyril Kern gave to the family of the prime minister were conducted with lightning speed. The investigation of the Kern affair itself, which began about two years ago, still drags on without conclusion.
The attorney general's legal reasoning is relevant both for crimes involving bribery and for breach of trust. According to that reasoning, the criminal label is removed from behavior that can be reasonably explained as being in the public interest.
The decision to file charges is based on the factual and legal value of the evidence. It is therefore possible for the attorney general to reach a different conclusion from that of the state prosecutor, without his decision being considered unreasonable.
The composition of the highest court is supposed to reflect the character of the society, and discussions about selection of candidates should take this fact into consideration.
State Prosecutor Edna Arbel's recommendation supporting an indictment against the prime minister has near binding status. It can only be ignored if there are very strong reasons to do so.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin had harsh words, legitimate in and of themselves, for the intervention of the High Court in issues of social policy. Equally strongly worded responses came from newly retired justices Dorner and Or. The High Court ruling in the matter of the environment appears to be an over-internalization of the criticism leveled at it. Such internalization of criticism must not lead to judicial constitutional restraint that is greater than necessary.
The Judicial Appointments Committee will today apparently introduce an innovation into the process of selecting judges - which is still largely hidden from the public eye, even though other public agencies are becoming increasingly transparent.