The process of selecting a new attorney general is not yet finished. After the selection committee failed to settle on a candidate, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman's recommendation that Yehuda Weinstein be appointed was far from satisfactory. Weinstein, a respected lawyer in private practice, has specialized in criminal law, which is not central to the attorney general's work. Neeman's involvement in concealing his personal ties with one of the other candidates, Yedidia Stern, who has since withdrawn his candidacy, doesn't bolster Neeman's recommendation. Likewise, the justice minister's candidate would have to recuse himself from dealing with a series of cases against public figures with whom he has had personal ties.
The post of attorney general must be filled by someone with a spotless reputation who has expertise first and foremost in public law. Most of the attorney general's work involves administering legal advice to the government on questions that don't actually involve criminal law. The fact that State Prosecutor Moshe Lador is a criminal-law expert reinforces the need for an attorney general with a background in public law.
Four of the candidates for attorney general garnered the support of three members of the selection committee, among them Daphne Barak-Erez, whose integrity and expertise in public law is unassailable. She has been a candidate for years as a Supreme Court justice; this is one of the best tests of her suitability as attorney general. Many High Court rulings have cited her legal scholarship, which has dealt with such issues as the law of war, fundamental rights, religion and state, gender and privatization. And the government gains a distinct advantage in being represented in court by someone the judges highly esteem.
The need to increase the number of women in senior positions and to break the "glass ceiling" in official posts that have hitherto been filled only by men should also be noted. The executive and legislative branches still suffer from a serious and outrageous underrepresentation regarding everything related to women.
Barak-Erez should be chosen as the next attorney general. Her expertise, knowledge and the high esteem for her in the judicial system and academia should guide the cabinet, as should the importance of appointing women to senior positions. It's not too late. At the next cabinet meeting, when the ministers choose the next attorney general, the cabinet should reject Neeman's recommendation and vote for Barak-Erez.
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