Israel prides itself on being the only democracy in the Middle East. But if we are not careful, we will lose that distinction. Today Israel finds itself increasingly under the rule not of law, but of lawyers. And the results are similar to the results in other states where the rule of law is undermined. Lawlessness, loss of personal security and selective legal protection are becoming more and more widespread.
Sunday, former justice minister Prof. Amnon Rubinstein warned against this growing phenomenon in a broadside against Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz. Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, Rubinstein, who now serves as the dean of the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, rebuked Mazuz for threatening to limit Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's executive powers if he deems them to be in conflict with the criminal probe of Olmert's role in the privatization of Bank Leumi.
In Rubinstein's words, "The attorney-general is not permitted to limit the powers of a minister or of the prime minister. He is certainly not permitted to threaten to limit them." Rubinstein continued: "This is an extremely serious matter. It is without precedent in any democratic country… There is a danger in a regime of bureaucrats. An elected representative is always dependent on the public, whereas we have no control over appointed officials."
Mazuz and his colleagues routinely respond to attacks similar to Rubinstein's by stating that their expropriation of the legally mandated powers of elected leaders is done merely to protect the rule of law. Yet this is untrue.
MAZUZ AND his associates in the state prosecution wrest power from political leaders to advance their own political agendas - agendas that uniformly align with those of the radical, anti-Israel Left. Indeed, one of the most important powers the state prosecution took from the government is the power to choose the attorney-general and the state's attorney. Today appointments for both positions are vetted by a committee comprised of unelected lawyers. That is, in a manner even less open to political oversight than the self-selection of judges, the state prosecution selects its own leaders.
And asserting control over the prime minister's powers in office is not the only area where Israel's state prosecution uses its law enforcement powers to advance its politically-uniform membership's political agenda. In addition to using its authority to investigate and indict, state prosecutors use that power to determine how and against whom the laws will be enforced generally in the country.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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