The Coalition Agreements of Israel's 37th Government: The Appointment of Legal Advisors in Government Ministries

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Turning ministry legal advisors into political appointees will deprive them of their ability to protect the rule of law and will reduce public trust in the ministries.

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Today, ministries' legal advisors are appointed by tender. This method is compatible with the essence of their position— helping the ministry implement its policies from a legal perspective, and at the same time, serving as gatekeepers to ensure that the ministry complies with the law.

Section 31 of the coalition agreement between the Likud and the Religious Zionism party states that instead of a tender, ministry legal advisors will be appointed by directors general, with this advisor's position falling into the category of "position of trust." In other words, the appointment and dismissal of the legal advisor will be at the discretion of the director general-a political appointee of the minister.

Making legal advisors political appointees chosen by the director general and the minister will turn them into yes-men, instead of public servants (as they should be). In order to safeguard the legality of government actions and prevent corruption, the legal advisors must be independent when issuing their legal opinions, and professionally subordinate to the Attorney General, rather than to the minister. And so, if the ministry legal advisors are turned into political appointees, not only will their status be affected, but their ability to defend the rule of law and do their job, will be significantly hindered. The anticipated result is that when petitions are filed with the Court, it will no longer be able to assume that there had been an appropriate inspection of an action’s constitutionality and legality. Furthermore, this will deal a blow to the public's trust in government ministries. This is one more attempt to put a straitjacket on an independent institution which functions as a gatekeeper and to subordinate it to the political echelon, flying in the face of the public interest.