Weinstein 'hijacked' attorney general's office

New Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has a tough task ahead of him taking back control of a 'hijacked' office, gov't watchdog says.

Yoni Kempinski ,

Former Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein
Former Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein
Dudi Vaknin/POOL/Flash 90

Avichai Mandelblit was sworn in as Israel's new Attorney General yesterday - and he has a tough task ahead of him.

His predecessor, Yehuda Weinstein, left an office mired in controversy, amid mounting allegations that he consistently overstepped his authority and acted almost as a dictator - turning an unelected, advisory position into one capable of overruling elected government officials.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Attorney Simcha Roitman of the Movement for Governability and Democracy described how Weinstein took an unprecedented activist position, while giving free reign to his deputies to further political and "personal agendas."

Weinstein's term as Attorney General "would be best defined by the term 'chaos'," said Roitman.

"There was no leadership; every deputy took (his office) in its own direction.

"Because of that there was no one to restrain these people from taking over bigger and bigger parts of the Israeli government."

On the other hand, he described a highly activist Attorney General, who "forgot that his role is to advise, not to decide," a radical shift in practice which he said "harmed democracy" in Israel.

By way of example, Roitman noted how Weinstein's unprecedented veto of former Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich's candidate for Chief of Police catapulted the Israel Police into a full year of "chaos", including resignations of several senior commanders which decimated much of the police top brass.

Another example, he said, was the way Weinstein waded into the controversy of Culture Minister Miri Regev's attempt to withhold funding from artists and institutions who act against the State of Israel and openly support Palestinian terrorism.

Weinstein tried "to force her to give money to those organization. That's not his place, he's not elected."

The former Attorney General "hijacked" his office, as well as the Justice Ministry, and pushed agendas "even against the better judgement of ministers, even against the better judgement of the prime minister.

"We all paid the price."