Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked, appointed an external adviser for settlement cases presented to the Supreme Court in order to dictate the state attorney’s positions and what it should say in court, making the court’s positions on settlements “different to what they had been in the past”.
According to an article published this morning by Haaretz, the Jewish Home MK believes that her two greatest achievements since her appointment as Justice Minister is her appointment of several conservative, religious and settler judges and changing the state attorney’s and state’s position on settlement cases presented to the Supreme Court.
The newspaper noted that the minister and staff members close to her hold “special meetings and discussions regarding settlement cases and rewrite documents in a manner aligning with their goals. They also stress their positions to the Supreme Court justices. Shaked does not even try to hide her influence, but on the contrary, she is proud of what she is doing and does not see a problem with changing the rules of the Justice Ministry.”
The newspaper quoted sources at the Justice Ministry saying that Shaked did not wait long to do this. According to them, a few months after she assumed her post, she had already issued an order stipulating that the court’s every position or response to settlements and settlement blocs should go through attorney Amir Fisher, who is not a member of the state attorney’s office, but a member of the extremist right-wing Regavim Movement.
The sources added that Shaked created a new position for him, with the job title of external consultant to the Justice Ministry for settlement affairs, with an annual salary of about $100,000. The sources stated that every document or paper regarding settlements passes through his desk first and he makes his comments and dictates his decisions to the state prosecution.
“It’s something that goes to the root of our professional integrity,” said an attorney working in the Supreme Court appeals department. “Maybe we are becoming the Jewish Home appeals department rather than the Israeli state appeals department,” he added.
The newspaper quoted a former senior Justice Ministry official saying: “In Shaked’s case, there is concern that her interference stems from the fact that those involved in these cases are her political supports. The question that needs to be asked is why has the Justice Ministry employed an external consultant, a figure from the political world, who is not committed to the rules of civil service or to the political restrictions imposed on this type of service? This reveals a form of distrust in the current system. It is as if Shaked is saying ‘I do not trust your advice’.”
According to Haaretz, there hasn’t been public criticism within the Justice Ministry because the lawyers working for the state prosecution are well aware that Shaked is responsible for their promotion to judges in the near and far future. One of the lawyers said: “Everyone is extremely cautious when writing their appeals and legal positions because they know that the minister will re-read them.”