Haaretz Editorial

Let's Hope Shapira Will Be Independent

An independent and strong state comptroller is essential to high moral standards and efficient public service.

"The state comptroller's work must be revolutionized. Instead of publishing thick reports, the comptroller should focus on applying his recommendations and bringing the guilty to justice. The comptroller must be more activist and work with the organizations that are fighting corruption. We need a 'bulldog' ... in the comptroller's office, someone who can sink his teeth into corruption."

This is what then-chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, MK Michael Eitan, said seven years ago when Micha Lindenstrauss was appointed state comptroller. Lindenstrauss did what Eitan recommended and created an activist institution with presence and significance. Lindenstrauss took up his post after a judicial career spanning more than 30 years.

Supreme Court Justice Eliezer Rivlin, who lost the Knesset vote for the post, also has a judicial career spanning more than 30 years, while Judge Joseph Shapira, who was elected Monday, has been a judge for only nine years. Before becoming a judge, he was an attorney and chaired the Jerusalem district of the Israel Bar Association.

Being a judge helps a person gain independence from his previous environment, and although such independence can develop during a shorter judicial career, longer service, which becomes a way of life, is a better promise of autonomy.

The selection of private attorney Yehuda Weinstein as attorney general weakened that important office, and now we have a state comptroller who only a few years ago was a private attorney. This raises suspicions that the people who elected him did so to weaken the comptroller's office. Important cases await the incoming comptroller; some of them will be politically explosive: scrutiny of the travels of the prime minister and his wife, the Harpaz affair and the Carmel fire.

There is no argument that Shapira was an impressive judge, which gives reason to hope that as state comptroller he will show independence and strengthen that institution, which is so essential to high moral standards and efficient public service.

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