Justice Minister Gideon Saar is seeking female candidates for the position of Attorney General and asked several female attorneys to throw their hat in the ring, Haaretz reported Monday (סער פועל לאתר נשים שיגישו מועמדות לתפקיד היועץ המשפטי לממשלה). Sources close to Saar told Haaretz that he “believes that the principle of gender equality requires finding suitable candidates for the job, especially since to date a woman has never filled this important post.”
The current AG, Avichai Mandelblit, will retire at the end of January 2022, after a six-year term. The search committee for a new AG includes the chairman, former Supreme Court President Asher Grunis, the Knesset representative MK Zvi Hauser, the Bar Association representative attorney Tami Ullman, and Professor Ron Shapira representing the country’s law faculties.
Saar recently sent a letter to the women’s lobby, saying that “the fact that until now no female Attorney General has ever served in Israel is jarring in a country that has enshrined gender equality on its flag.” The Justice Minister added: “I agree that efforts should be made to effectively locate worthy female candidates for the position and that’s what I’m doing.”
Saar’s letter was a response to a letter from the women’s lobby’s requesting he give women a priority when compiling the list of candidates for the AG’s position.
“Given your duty to adequately represent women, and against the background of blatant gender discrimination over the years, with the position of AG being filled by men only since the establishment of the State of Israel, the search committee must actively seek women candidates for the position,” the women’s lobby wrote.
Saar’s main goal is to split the role of the Attorney General in two: legal counsel to the government, and chief prosecutor. To that end, the justice minister is looking for a candidate for AG who would support his change. Splitting the AG’s authority would mean that he would no longer be able to influence decisions regarding the prosecution of politically sensitive cases such as charges of bribery and fraud against a sitting prime minister. These powers would be relegated to the chief prosecutor along, who would hopefully be unbiased politically (in short, an angel sent down from heaven). At the same time, the new AG will be required to be thoroughly schooled in constitutional and administrative law.