Op-Ed: Required: A Cleaner For the Attorney General’s Office
Nachi Eyal, Legal ForumThe writer is the Director General of the Legal Forum for Israel.
In Israel, the attorney general is the first citizen of law enforcement. His legal guidelines are binding and he is the number one commentator on the law of the land. At a time when the Supreme Court is more conservative and less activist than before, Yehuda Weinstein is the most powerful person in the legal arena and perhaps the most powerful man in the country.
An attorney general is not a private person. He is an icon. His reputation cannot be tarnished in any way, he must be “whiter than white”. The holder of the title is not just another legal advisor, but sits at the top of the legal hierarchy.
The saga of the illegal employment of a foreign worker as housekeeper/cleaner in Israel Attorney General Weinstein’s home, which came to an end this week, is a stain on the man and on the position. The public can easily smell the odor of the double standard at play.
The public can easily smell the odor of the double standard at play.
The state prosecutor, acting under the umbrella of the attorney general, initially decided (despite the Legal Forum’s demand to observe equality before the law) not to investigate Weinstein under caution regarding the offence which took place in his own home, fully appreciative of his own position and its inherent benefits.
Ultimately, Weinstein was required to give evidence in this case. During an examination of photos presented to him, Attorney Weinstein insisted that he did not recognize the worker in question.
This was not a mistake; the worker was not asked to identify the employer, and instead, the employer was asked to identify the employee. Surprisingly, the attorney general did not recognize him.
The attorneys handled the Attorney General with silk gloves, which is why it is not surprising that the state prosecutor was pleased with Weinstein’s conduct in at least one matter --the establishment of a regulatory body of the State Prosecution, their nightmare that Weinstein attempted to stall for many months.
The attorney general succeeded in protecting his employees from having their failings checked and, in turn, the state prosecutor protected the AG’s conduct - a case of “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine”. The only ones who suffered were the Israeli public, who quickly recognized that old behaviors were still apparent in the State’s law enforcement system.
In similar cases where a foreign worker was employed illegally, regular citizens have been faced with two indictments, one each for both husband and wife. Attorney Moshe Pollack from the Legal Forum, who has represented several clients in similar cases, has been demanding for months that the Immigration Authority clarify its criteria for indicting suspects of illegal hiring and employment activities: When are investigations carried out and indictments served against both partners and when is only one person indicted? What are the legal counsel’s guidelines on this issue?
Attorney Pollack has yet to receive a satisfying reply.
Attorney General Weinstein was clearly faced with a conflict of interest when he handled a similar case not long ago where the husband, former Defense Minister Ehud Barak, also managed to evade prosecution and left his wife to face the charges. It is obvious that Weinstein was in no position to handle that case, knowing that he was in the same situation.
The stains that blemish the attorney general do not allow him to continue to head the law enforcement system. In a modern civilized state a man in his position should immediately resign. The illegal employment of a foreign worker by his wife is no less severe than having a dollar account abroad as had the wife of then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. If Yitzchak Rabin was required to resign as prime minister following the discovery of his wife’s account, then Attorney General Weinstein should have resigned long ago.
It seems that what is required now is an effective cleaner to remove the stains soiling the attorney general’s office.
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