Former Justice Minister and Yamina Co-Chair Ayelet Shaked on Monday morning attacked the government’s expected decision to approve the extension of the term of Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber for another three months. Zilber was due to end her term at the end of September, but at the request of Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn (Blue&White) and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, her term will be extended until the end of 2020.
Shaked attacked the expected decision on her Facebook page and described it as surrendering before the legal system:
“The truth must be told: the Netanyahu-Gantz government strengthens the progressive camp in every aspect and turns its back on the conservative camp,” Shaked wrote, “and the fresh example from this week, of course, proves it. Attorney Zilber was supposed to end her service, but instead of appointing a conservative to the job of deputy attorney general, the Netanyahu government chooses to extend her term.”
Shaked reminded her followers that “Zilber who delivered blunt political speeches (including in the Knesset); She wrote in her book and in her articles that the bureaucracy should attain the power to formulate policy since the alternative would be a demotion to conciliari of government ministers.”
Back in October 2018, the Justice Minister Shaked informed the AG that Zilber is prohibited from appearing before the Knesset and the government, and attached a list of occasions when the deputy AG had spoken her own views in Knesset committees rather than the position of the justice ministry. Shaked demanded that Zilber be fired. Mandelblit thought otherwise.
Five days earlier, Zilber appeared at the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, to represent the position of Attorney General Mandelblit, whom she claimed was unable to participate in a hearing on Shaked’s bill which allows government ministers to appoint their own legal advisors. Zilber told the committee that “the Attorney General wanted to clarify his firm opposition to the law,” adding, “The role of a legal advisor is to realize the goals of the elected officials within the rule of law. Most government ministers are satisfied with the work of the legal advisors of their ministries, who faithfully represent the positions of the ministers, including when facing me, when necessary. They are loyal public servants and therefore there is no substantive need for the proposed bills.”
Zilber then moved on to express her opposition to the complementary bills proposed by Shaked and MK Amir Ohana (Likud), suggesting both bills turn the legal adviser’s position into a personal appointment, which she said was destructive.
In December 2019, Shaked’s successor, Justice Minister Amir Ohana, also locked horns with Zilber and the Justice Ministry’s staff, who were issuing press releases on his behalf but with their points of view.
“Often you have produced announcements on various issues on behalf of the AG and the prosecution under the heading Justice Ministry Spokesperson, or simply Justice Ministry,” Minister Ohana wrote the staff, “which are erroneously associated by many in the public with yours truly, even though they did not receive my endorsement nor have they been issued by me.”
Shaked wrote on Monday morning that “extending Zilber’s tenure, after the Likud and the Haredim have grumbled (and rightly so) about her conduct, this shameful bowing of the heads before Avi Nissenkorn by parties that claimed to belong to what was the ‘rightwing bloc’ – it simply amounts to a breach of public trust.”
“In 2015, when I took up my position as Justice Minister, the strange reality still existed in which there were those who chose to be naive and ignore the clear division between legal conservatism and activism,” Shaked wrote. “I put things clearly on the table, as they say. It is certainly no secret that I have acted to strengthen the conservative camp in the Supreme Court through the appointment of conservative and national judges. Changing the composition of the Supreme Court of Israel, which for years has mainly seen appointed progressive judges (partly due to the composition of the Judicial Selection Committee) is a long process that requires patience. The leftwing government led by Netanyahu interrupted the process, perhaps caused its regression.”
Shaked, ever ready to pick up where she left off come the next election (and the realization of Yamina’s surprisingly strong showing in the polls), wrote: “I suppose that if Netanyahu had not abandoned the justice portfolio to Avi Nissenkorn, it would have been possible to reach a state of equality between the two camps,” meaning that conservative justices would balance out the activists.
She’s quite right, and Yamina should point out, come the next election this tendency of Netanyahu’s to support the leftwing judicial junta while reneging on his promises to impose sovereignty and prevent a Palestinian state.