Attorney general to Netanyahu: Stay out of judicial reform affairs

Amid intense public debate and PM's ongoing graft trial, Gali Baharav-Miara says involvement in highly-controversial overhaul of legal system would constitute a conflict of interest

Tova Zimuki|
Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that any involvement on the premier's side in the highly-controversial judicial reform sought by his hardline government would constitute a conflict of interest given his ongoing corruption trial.
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  • In a letter made public, the attorney general wrote: "You must avoid as part of your role as prime minister involvement in initiatives related to the legal system."
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    Attorney general warns Netanyahu to stay out of judicial reform fight
    Attorney general warns Netanyahu to stay out of judicial reform fight
    Attorney general warns Netanyahu to stay out of judicial reform fight
    (Photo: AFP, Yoav Dudkevitch)
    Netanyahu's far-right government has made the reform the centerpiece of its policies, spearheaded by Justice Minister and close Netanyahu confidant Yariv Levin.
    However, the proposed reform has encountered fierce resistance from business leaders, top bankers, hi-tech workers, entrepreneurs and large swaths of the general public, having staged a series of nationwide mass demonstrations against the reform every weekend for over a month.
    The attorney general has specified that Netanyahu's conflict of interest also extends to indirect contacts regarding the reform, which means he must not in any way be directly involved in the advancement of the reform nor mediate any kind of settlement pertaining to it.
    With Netanyahu himself touting the reform as essential to judicial integrity, supposedly streamlining the judicial system to counterbalance a court the premier believes is overly powerful, it is currently unclear whether Netanyahu will heed the AG's warning.
    2 View gallery
    בנימין נתניהו בבית המשפט
    בנימין נתניהו בבית המשפט
    Netanyahu in court
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
    Under the proposed reform, a simple Knesset majority of 61 votes would be enough to override any Supreme Court ruling that deems laws passed by the legislature unconstitutional. Furthermore, it would allow government ministers to disregard legal opinions of counselors.
    Critics say the reform would render the system of checks and balances toothless and ineffective, leaving decisions pertaining to sensitive issues such as LGBT and minority rights at the whims of a highly-conservative majority.
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