Why the Attorney General Must Go

There is no place at the pinnacle of the Israeli justice system for Yehuda Weinstein, who dislikes investigations or public trials of senior figures.

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Raviv Drucker
Raviv Drucker

There is no other option. It is not to be taken lightly. It is unprecedented, but Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has to go. He should have gone after his disgraceful handling of the investigation into Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s “straw companies.” The only reason Weinstein has kept his job is because senior figures in the Israel Police and the AG’s office have kept silent about the handling of the case.

The attorney general must go because after sitting on the “Bibi tours” case for three and a half years, he killed it and decided not to investigate. He has to go because of his attempt to spike the Harpaz case; the decision not to investigate, to wait, to let the State Comptroller’s Office handle the job, all of which led to the farce that, four years on, there are still question marks hovering over it.

The attorney general must resign because he waited two and a half years before ordering a criminal investigation against former Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, rendering the investigation meaningless. There, too, he wanted the State Comptroller’s Office to do the dirty work.

Weinstein must return to his own law firm on account of the inept way he closed the sexual assault case against Israel Police Maj. Gen. Uri Bar-Lev in April 2011. Dr. Orly Innes’ complaint against the senior commander was examined by the Justice Ministry’s department for investigating police officers, which found it to be credible and recommended prosecution – only to end in yet another deal by the attorney general, who dislikes investigations or public trials (in favor of “apologize and go home”).

It is no simple matter to call on the attorney general to resign. It feels like the call of the average soccer fan. But after four-and-a-half catastrophic years in office, there is simply no alternative.

Weinstein has made the wrong decision nearly every time. He passed the courageous complaint by the prime minister’s aides about then-bureau chief Natan Eshel to the Civil Service Commission instead of the police. For years, he prevented the police from questioning a judge who was suspected of beating his children. He twice gave his “seal of approval” to a law against asylum seekers that the High Court of Justice overturned.

The law enforcement system under Weinstein lacks all esprit de guerre. All anyone wants is to finish up and move on. Perhaps that is why the “examination” of the sham letter accusing then-Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar of sexual misconduct was lackluster, and the “examination” of intelligence implicating cabinet minister Silvan Shalom was anemic. Neither probe, presumably, came close to determining the truth.

Incriminating evidence against Benjamin Ben-Eliezer languished for more than a year for no reason and was only revived, in a near-miracle, when Ben-Eliezer was already counting the steps to the President’s Residence. Weinstein was not directly responsible for that, of course, but it isn’t difficult to tell which way the wind blows from the AG’s office. No police officer or prosecutor goes to war against a politician when the AG sends the message that it’s the last thing he want to land on his desk.

The most urgent reason for the attorney general to do the honorable thing and step down is the Pinto affair. Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto and his circle continue to make accusations against the head of an elite unit of the Israel Police. Documents from the case file that ostensibly support Pinto’s version of events find their way onto a Hebrew news website. The rabbi’s wife gives an interview to Channel 2 television in which she refutes, point by point, the rabbi’s confession – ostensibly the justification for his plea bargain, which is scandalous in and of itself. Any normal AG would have withdrawn the deal and issued an indictment against Pinto. If Pinto has evidence to back his claim that Brig. Gen. Ephraim Bracha was derelict in his duty (which I doubt), let him bring it to court. And if not, maybe with any luck David Rozen will be the judge in his trial.

I am not naive. Weinstein won’t step down. Public pressure might help, but it’s difficult to explain that his job performance is more damaging to us than the high price of Milky pudding.