Israel's Attorney General Is Blatantly Interfering in Election for Netanyahu

Yehuda Weinstein has erred in postponing a corruption investigation until after the vote; if more than a few months remained before appointing a AG, this conduct would be enough to justify removing him from office.

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Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting.Credit: Daniel Bar-On

When Yehuda Weinstein was appointed attorney general five years ago, it was hoped he would stop acting like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s private lawyer – he represented the Netanyahus in a corruption case back in 2000. It was hoped Weinstein would become an impartial public servant.

But as prosecutor-in-chief, Weinstein departed from impartial obedience to the law. He continued to act as Netanyahu’s defense attorney and thus obscured the line between attorney general and political associate.

Things reached a nadir at the end of last week with Weinstein’s surprising announcement that despite evidence of criminal wrongdoing regarding the management of the prime minister’s residences, the police may not query suspects and witnesses until after the March 17 election.

Weinstein’s decision is so devoid of logic that the suspicion arises he first wrote the desired outcome and only then sought arguments to support it. These arguments were found with the help of government lawyers who follow the spirit of their leader.

Based on preliminary findings only, Weinstein hastily determined that Netanyahu was not involved in criminal wrongdoing. This hurried decision looks like a transparent attempt to clear Netanyahu’s name, but every investigator and lawyer knows that an investigation never ends the way it starts.

Once he announced that the prime minister was not involved, Weinstein should have terminated his involvement in the matter and referred it to his subordinates, regardless of whether the prime minister’s wife was involved.

Weinstein’s postponing of the investigation – out of fears that during a probe Sara Netanyahu might let slip statements that embarrass or even implicate her husband – gives her privileges denied everyone else. The wife of a prime minister shares his assets but not his legal rights and obligations.

If Weinstein wants to vote for Netanyahu, let him do so, like any other citizen. But his conduct in the prime-minister’s-residence affair constitutes blatant interference in the upcoming election. If more than a few months remained before appointing a new attorney general, this conduct would be enough to justify removing him from office.

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