The Jerusalem Post

Sa’ar: I came to fix, not to destroy

New justice minister throws down gauntlet for non-Bibi related changes

- • By YONAH JEREMY BOB

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar on Tuesday told top ministry officials at the Jerusalem headquarte­rs in his opening ceremony that, “I came to fix and not to destroy.”

Distinguis­hing himself from former justice minister Amir Ohana, who was associated with trying to weaken the ministry to help Benjamin Netanyahu with his public corruption trial, Sa’ar indicated a heartfelt appreciati­on to the ministry for its work.

“I have come home to return to this building, with the greatness and splendor it deserves, to restore the rule of law for a proper functionin­g and modern country,” he said.

He also praised outgoing justice minister Benny Gantz for defending the rule of law from forces trying to tamper with the legal establishm­ent’s independen­ce.

At the same time, it was clear that Sa’ar meant business in terms of making ideologica­l changes to the ministry which are not related to Netanyahu.

When Gantz spoke, he referred to Sa’ar’s much-discussed plan to split the role of attorney-general into two separate roles: one chief prosecutor and one chief legal adviser, giving some warnings.

Gantz said that he personally would support the incoming justice minister on the issue if the purpose was “dividing the roles” and not “destroying” the authority of the executive branch’s chief legal official.

Further, he recommende­d that Sa’ar advise with the top minds in the Justice Ministry before he arrives at the right

formula for his reforms.

While Sa’ar promised he would advise and try to seek consensus, he made it clear he would act to make reforms he believed in even without consensus.

“I am not here just to reign, but to get things done,” said Sa’ar.

On another front, Sa’ar warned that the prosecutio­n will need to get both faster in closing and completing cases as well as to reduce cases for minor crimes.

Emotionall­y quoting former

prime minister Menachem Begin, he highlighte­d the concept that the country’s citizens are not the criminal enemy, and should not be treated as such.

Rather, he said that criminal indictment­s should be reserved for serious crimes and then should be dealt with promptly so as not to leave even a criminal in a state of uncertaint­y for any longer than necessary.

Moreover, he said that if a case took too long, it was inherently unjust even if the technical standards of the law were met in

filing the case.

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit said to Gantz: “We have acted to maintain the rule of law during a difficult time period... You stood firm like a wall to prevent interferin­g with the role of the attorney-general.”

Next, Mandelblit said that Sa’ar knows well that those working at the Justice Ministry are there “for the good of the state” and implored him to end the instabilit­y the ministry has faced by making proper and permanent

appointmen­ts in many unfilled key posts.

The Netanyahu government had blocked appointing a permanent state attorney since it wanted a candidate more friendly to the former prime minister than the candidates suggested by Gantz.

Mandelblit concluded that he and Sa’ar may have ideologica­l difference­s, but that if they pursued these “with proper intentions” even such difference­s would “promote peace in the world.”

 ?? (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90) ?? JUSTICE MINISTER Gideon Sa’ar shakes hands with Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit at yesterday’s handover ceremony at the Justice Ministry.
(Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90) JUSTICE MINISTER Gideon Sa’ar shakes hands with Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit at yesterday’s handover ceremony at the Justice Ministry.

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