Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman admittedly failed to split the attorney general’s job into two positions − the government’s legal adviser and the head of the prosecution. But the man who, since his first day in office, has sought to weaken both the judiciary and the attorney general, has succeeded in significantly weakening the latter institution via the appointment of Yehuda Weinstein, even if the weakness is personal rather than institutional.
In his role as the government’s legal adviser, Weinstein is responsible for one of the sorriest episodes in the history of Israeli democracy (even if he shares the responsibility with others, first and foremost the head of the Justice Ministry’s High Court division, Osnat Mandel): He agreed to defend the government’s request to annul a final verdict of the High Court of Justice and reopen hearings on a petition demanding that the state evacuate Beit El’s Ulpana neighborhood. Weinstein, as the petitioners’ attorney, Michael Sfard, aptly noted, did not represent the public interest in this case, but the politicians’ interests.
Moreover, he severely undermined the court by lending a hand to a maneuver whose goal was to avoid implementing a court ruling. On this subject, Supreme Court President Asher Grunis wrote: “Without this fundamental element [implementation], the legal process would be rendered moot. And this is especially true when the state is the one responsible for carrying out a ruling.”
The attorney general’s office does not merely provide legal representation for the government’s positions. It is also supposed to mediate between the executive branch and the judicial branch. To do so, it must maintain credibility with both parties.
But in backing the government’s request, Weinstein cravenly passed responsibility for making the decision (which was a foregone conclusion) to the Supreme Court, thereby abetting further assaults on it. In so doing, the state prosecution under his leadership has forfeited its credibility as an agency that mediates between the government and the court.
In his role as head of the prosecution, Weinstein has also been party to a harmful process that is liable to end in a criminal indictment of Mohammed Bakri, director of the film “Jenin, Jenin.” In contrast to his predecessor, Menachem Mazuz, Weinstein is considering using a draconian article in the libel law against Bakri, even though this would deal a death blow to freedom of expression.
Two years after he was appointed to the job, it seems that Weinstein doesn’t understand what the attorney general’s role is. Therefore, he must resign.
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