Vice Premier Haim Ramon, who was justice minister until he rashly got himself and his mouth involved with a young female Israel Defense Forces officer, is third in importance in the government hierarchy. He is more important than the deputy prime ministers, including Shaul Mofaz. Above him are only the prime minister and the acting prime minister. This situation came about after the court, which convicted Ramon, determined that his acts were not tainted by moral turpitude. Ramon returned to the cabinet of Ehud Olmert driven by vengeance against those who caused his troubles. First and foremost among them, in his eyes, is Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.
From the moment of his court conviction - which he did not challenge, for his own reasons - Ramon embarked on an all-out war against the police, the prosecution and Mazuz, the person responsible for law enforcement. Last month Ramon failed in his efforts to create a committee that would probe those who investigated him. A cabinet majority fought off his maneuverings, backed by his successor, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, and the examination of the issue of police wiretaps was transferred to the care of State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss. The onus is now on the state comptroller, who will try to show that he has no personal animosity toward Olmert, who was at the center of many of Lindenstrauss' investigations, and that the probe into the wire taps will be carried out without bias.
The cabinet meeting that dealt with this issue was characterized by a bitter - even audacious - assault by Olmert, who is on the verge of being indicted on a series of criminal suspicions, against Mazuz. Yesterday it seemed that Ramon's recent failure did not deter him from launching yet another attack against Mazuz. This time his argument concerned a fundamental principle, similar to that raised by Friedmann when he presented the draft of a bill written on his behalf, unbeknownst to Mazuz, by a private attorney: that the attorney general is too powerful.
The reason for Ramon's attack on Mazuz is less important, but in this, too, Mazuz is in the right. The racist remarks of a candidate seeking to head the Israel Lands Administration should indeed disqualify him for the post - and if the candidate does not agree, he should go convince the Supreme Court otherwise. Ramon called Mazuz "a legal tyrant" and argued that he has appropriated from the people's elected officials their power to govern.
This is baseless demagoguery. The authority of those elected is limited not by an individual person in the executive, but by law. The attorney general is the person authorized to interpret the law, so long as his interpretation passes muster in the Supreme Court. If the justices so decide, they will go along with the attorney general's position. If not, they will reject it and will accept the position of the petitioner, even Haim Ramon.
In practice, Ramon knows that the court does not often intervene in the decision-making process of the attorney general, as long as it is reasonable. It is precisely for this reason that during the past two decades various politicians, even famous ones like Ramon, have tried to influence the appointment of people to this position. We can safely assume that the struggle will continue even after the end of Mazuz's tenure.
This is another important reason why - in spite of his disappointment over the way the case of former president Moshe Katsav was handled, and primarily because of the criticism directed at him by the Supreme Court concerning the Katsav plea bargain - Mazuz has not abandoned his post and should stay on for the decisions in the cases pending against Olmert.
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