Incoming attorney general Yehuda Weinstein, whose appointment was approved by the cabinet on Sunday, will face five challenges: the war on crime, eliminating corruption, enforcing the law in the territories, implementing international law, and protecting the rule of law in the face of threats from those who seek to undermine it.
Weinstein, who takes office on February 1, will be the first attorney general since the 1960s to come from a private legal practice. As a highly-regarded defense attorney, he and State Prosecutor Moshe Lador will have to lead and coordinate the fight against organized and violent crime, along with investigative and intelligence units in the police and other agencies. The law-enforcement system has chalked up successes against the heads of criminal gangs, and there should not be any letup.
Weinstein must also lead the fight against government corruption following the successful term of Menachem Mazuz, who after stumbling in closing the "Greek island" case against former prime minister Ariel Sharon has not flinched from dealing with senior government officials, bringing several of them to justice. Weinstein will have to show at least the same measure of independence and resilience that Mazuz showed in the face of political pressure.
The law must be enforced everywhere under Israeli control; one of the new attorney general's first tests will be enforcing the security cabinet's decision to freeze construction in the settlements despite settlers' threats to rebel against the state's authority. He will have to be uncompromising in addressing ideological lawlessness, which threatens to tear apart the fabric of Israeli society and government.
The appointment of a new attorney general was preceded by controversy regarding qualifications for the post due to Weinstein's lack of experience in public, administrative and constitutional law. He will have to quickly address shortcomings and lead the government and defense establishment in implementing international norms regarding the laws of war. All this comes against the backdrop of the stern warning Israel received in the Goldstone report. The attorney general represents the law and his voice must be heard before decisions are made on using force.
Weinstein will have the dual responsibility of serving as the government's legal adviser and the head of the state prosecution; he must maintain the power of his office and pass it on in its entirety to his successor. Weinstein's appointment must halt Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman's initiative to split the office of the attorney general, which would be inappropriate and damaging, and would threaten to undermine the rule of law in Israel.
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