Ayelet Shaked Wants Justice Minister to Have Sole Nominating Power for Israeli Attorney General

Justice minister says rules of current search committee turn the nomination process into a tactical question of internal politics.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked at a meeting of her Bayit Hayehudi party. Her demand that leftist NGOs need to wear special badges in the Knesset is a first indication of what is to come
Olivier Fitoussi

The search committee that currently proposes candidates for the post of attorney-general should be done away with and the nomination should be made by the justice minister, subject to cabinet approval, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said yesterday.

“The norm with regard to other appointments is that the minister nominates a candidate and the cabinet decides whether to approve it,” she said. “That’s how chiefs of general staff, police commissioners, and other critical officials are appointed, and that’s how attorneys-general were appointed in the past as well.”

Speaking at an economic conference in Tel Aviv, Shaked said that the committee model introduced in 2000, on the basis of recommendations by the Shamgar Committee, was not working. It requires that candidates must be approved by at least four of the five search committee members to be among the three candidates for the post proposed to the cabinet.

“The expectation was that there would be a professional debate, divorced from politics, resulting in an attorney general whose independence was assured,” she said. “Judging by the results, the committee members find themselves burdened by a tactical question – will the candidate they prefer get the backing of four members? As it turned out, the last search committee was unable to find a candidate who got four votes, while this time they could not agree on three candidates.”

There is no need for such a committee today, she said, because the courts have increased their oversight over government appointments and the Turkel Committtee vets nominees for senior civil service positions.

“Today there is an effective solution that doesn’t require a preliminary search committee,” Shaked said, adding, “It can be assumed that the minister will conduct thorough and professional consultations before making the appointment.”

She said her intention to change the nomination process would not affect the nomination of Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mendelblit, the search committee’s sole candidate, whose appointment is due to be voted on by the cabinet on Sunday.

Shaked also addressed the recently revealed dispute between State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and the commissioner for prosecutorial oversight Hila Gerstel over Nitzan’s intervention in the Health Ministry’s appointment of Dr. Maya Forman-Reznick as chief pathologist at the National Institute for Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir.

Nitzan allegedly scuttled Forman-Reznik’s appointment because she had testified against the prosecution in the murder retrial of Roman Zadorov, whose murder conviction was upheld last week by the Supreme Court.

Shaked said she planned to submit a bill that would establish the authority of the Gerstel commission in law. “The prosecution erred in intervening in the appointment,” Shaked said. “Authority to make the appointment should have remained with the Health Ministry, and this overlegalization harmed the process and Dr. Forman.”