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Justice minister says ‘almost impossible’ to work with Israel's attorney general, but firing is ‘problematic’

Attorney general refuses to represent government position in key hearings this month

Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin addresses the Knesset ahead of a vote on the Reasonableness Bill at the Knesset assembly hall in Jerusalem, July 24, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin criticized Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara on Sunday for refusing to support the government’s positions on judicial reform laws and calling for the Supreme Court to strike down the Reasonableness Standard Law.

“It’s very difficult and almost impossible to work like this,” Levin told Israel's Kan news outlet. “This is not how the attorney general is supposed to act.”

During the interview, Levin said the attorney general “is supposed to represent the government, defend the government and assist it — and not work against it.”

However, he acknowledged that “firing her is very problematic.”

Baharav-Miara, who began her post in 2021, has had several disagreements with Levin, the main driving force behind the judicial overhaul since the Netanyahu-led coalition came to power late last year. Israeli media has regularly run reports of Levin’s desire to remove her from the position.

On Sunday, the attorney general approved a request by Levin to use independent legal counsel instead of the Attorney General’s Office for the legal battle over his decision to not convene the Judicial Selection Committee.

Baharav-Miara reportedly sees no legal justification for Levin’s refusal to convene the committee but agreed to let him seek independent counsel instead of rejecting the request.

In a letter sent to her office, Levin had accused Baharav-Miara of “extremist positions” that required him to seek independent counsel.

“This should not detract from the fact that the situation you have created is improper, and that the job of the attorney general is to represent the government and its members and not force them to require independent counsel time after time,” Levin wrote.

On Sunday, Baharav-Miara called for the Supreme Court to strike down the Reasonableness Standard Law, claiming that it “locks the gates of the courts to any person or group who are harmed by the fact that the government or one of its ministers acted against them in an extremely unreasonable manner, in any context.”

The coalition government is also using independent counsel for the hearing of the Reasonableness Standard Law due to the opposition from the attorney general.

Last Thursday, Baharav-Miara said that the reports of coalition threats to fire her “will not deter me and my people from continuing to fulfill our roles.”

She also disputed the claim that she was not properly representing Levin’s position in the hearings. She claimed that Levin rejected all the legal solutions her office had presented him regarding the Judicial Selection Committee. She stated that her office can only argue in defense of what is legal.

The High Court of Justice hearings on the Reasonableness Standard Law, the Incapacitation Law and Levin’s refusal to convene the Judicial Selection Committee will all take place in the next few weeks.

The hearing on the Judicial Selection Committee is scheduled to take place on Thursday, Sept. 7.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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