Lawmakers Slam Knesset Adviser for Favoring Wiretap Inquiry

Lawmakers from both the right and left slammed Knesset legal adviser Nurit Elstein yesterday for her view that there is nothing wrong with a commission of inquiry investigating the police's wiretapping in the Haim Ramon case.

Former justice minister Ramon, a Kadima member who is now vice premier, was convicted in early 2007 of forcibly kissing a female soldier. Ramon's attorneys complained during his trial that police had kept the fact of the wiretapping hidden from them, and that this had harmed Ramon's case.

"The Knesset legal adviser's involvement in every issue that serves her masters from Kadima while exceeding her authority, is no longer surprising," State Control Committee chairman MK Zevulun Orlev (National Union-National Religious Party) told the cabinet yesterday. "Everyone is taking part in the revenge campaign, like in the Mafia."

Meretz-Yahad faction whip MK Zahava Gal-On said Elstein was helping to overturn the rule of law.

"Elstein has no authority to submit her opinion to the government," Gal-On stated. "She is lending a hand to a putsch against the rule of law."

Elstein submitted the opinion in writing in response to a request by MK Michael Eitan (Likud), a member of the parliamentary inquiry committee on wiretapping, prior to his appearance before the cabinet yesterday. Asked to give her view of whether the committee had the right to call for a commission of inquiry, Elstein said the government needs to take that committee's opinions into account.

"Not giving appropriate weight to the Knesset recommendation will damage the public interest," she said.

The wiretapping controversy is only the latest in which Elstein has been embroiled. She was previously severly criticized for her involvement in a dispute between Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander and State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, in which she came out in favor of Hollander.