Israel's Attorney General Bans Lapid Crony From Finance Ministry Meetings

Civil Service Commission will consider whether businessman Hillel Kobrinsky, a senior figure in the new finance minister's Yesh Atid party, may indeed attend.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is barring a close associate of Finance Minister Yair Lapid – high-tech entrepreneur Hillel Kobrinsky – from meetings on the state budget, at least for now.

Kobrinsky, the secretary general of Lapid's Yesh Atid party, has attended meetings at the ministry in apparent violation of the law. This includes discussions on the 2013-14 state budget and the Economic Arrangements Law that accompanies it. On Tuesday, Weinstein ordered a legal adviser at the ministry, Joel Baris, to make sure the practice stopped.

In response to an inquiry from TheMarker, the Justice Ministry issued a statement Tuesday saying the ministry and Baris had discussed the matter and agreed that Kobrinsky would not join meetings – at least until the Civil Service Commission looked into the matter.

On Monday, the Movement for Quality Government filed a complaint with the attorney general on the matter. The practice breaches the attorney general's guidelines on outside advisers, the group said. Weinstein then spoke with Baris and had his deputy, Dina Zilber, take the issue forward.

Weinstein also requested the minutes of Finance Ministry meetings that Kobrinsky had attended and asked who had authorized his presence there. The attorney general also asked the Finance Ministry for any forms Kobrinsky might have signed, to see if there were any legal ramifications.

Last month, a Yesh Atid source said Kobrinsky was likely to become the "dominant force in the Finance Ministry" due to his "strong influence" on Lapid.

Ofer Vaknin
Daniel Bar-On