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Israel's Justice Minister Is Actually Netanyahu’s Long Arm in the Legal System

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Once upon a time there was a finance minister named Yuval Steinitz, who sought a new head for the Israel Tax Authority. A search committee was formed, in accordance with protocol, comprising top tax experts and professionals. They recommended a prominent tax assessor by the name of Moshe Asher.

But Steinitz didn’t want Asher, so he ordered changes to the job criteria and the creation of a new search committee. Asher petitioned the High Court of Justice, which ruled that while the minister is in no way meant to be a rubber stamp, the search committee’s recommendation carries, “great, almost decisive weight,” in the hiring process. If the minister chooses to ignore it he must provide substantial reasons, the court said.

That is the balance between professional and public-political considerations in normal times. In an election season, when a caretaker government is in power — or one that sees only the next election — the balance changes.

Except in critical instances, such a government is not permitted to make senior appointments in the........

© Haaretz