MK Ze'ev Elkin
MK Ze'ev Elkin Israel news photo: file

Coalition chairman MK Ze'ev Elkin believes that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz made a serious mistake by publicly speaking against Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman's plan for splitting the powers of his office between two officials. Criticism such as that voiced by Mazuz should be heard only in private forums, not publicly, Elkin said.

Mazuz should step down following the speech, Elkin told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew news service. “It's obvious that we can't have a situation where the Attorney General or State Prosecutor is attacking the [Justice] Minister... Whoever wants to attack must first leave the system.”

Mazuz spoke at a conference at Neve Ilan on Friday and said that splitting the Attorney General's authority between two offices would have near-immediate negative effects. “I have no doubt that the almost immediate effect of splitting the Attorney General's authority would lead not only to weakening the Attorney General, but to politicizing his office,” Mazuz said.

The Attorney General went on to accuse Justice Minister Neeman, who proposed splitting the A-G's powers, of failing to properly understand his office and refusing to examine the matter in depth.

Elkin believes that Mazuz himself has proven the need to reduce the Attorney General's powers. As an example, he mentioned initiatives on behalf of Jews expelled from Gaza under the 2005 “Disengagement” plan – intiatives which won Knesset support, but which failed to move forward because they required Mazuz's authorization, which the A-G did not provide.

There are many more examples of ways in which the A-G's excess power leads to problems, Elkin said.

While Elkin supports a relatively far-reaching version of the proposal to split the A-G's powers, he points out that “this is not a black-and-white situation. There are several questions involved – do we split the powers at all, what exactly do we split and how.”

Elkin dismissed threats by Labor party leaders to leave the coalition if the A-G's powers are reduced. “The Labor party isn't doing anyone any favor by sitting in the government, except for itself,” he said.