Barak Launches Harsh Attack on Attorney General over Right to Negotiate with Palestinians
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak launched a blistering attack on Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein on Tuesday, saying that the letter Rubinstein had sent him, expressing his concern over whether the government had the moral authority to continue negotiating with the Palestinians following the prime minister's resignation, was "strange" and unprofessional, according to Haaretz newspaper.
In the personal letter to Barak that was sent five days ago, Rubinstein reiterated that the law did not place any formal restraints on a prime minister or government in the run-up to elections, said Haaretz.
However, Rubinstein added, while "carrying out negotiations does indeed seem to fall under [the prime minister's and government's] area of responsibility ... the purpose of the government's [continued] rule during this time [of elections] is to avoid creating a political void."
He went on to say the government should avoid making dramatic decisions, "unless there be no other choice, such as directing the army and defending [the state] in time of war."
In an interview on Israel Radio, Barak said that the letter "does not deal with professional issues, but with political issues."
What's more, he added, Rubinstein was expressing his personal worldview. The attorney general's right-wing views, he said, were well-known, said the paper.
Barak added that the letter had found its way into the press before he had even had a chance to read it properly.
Barak said he would meet with Rubinstein when he returned from abroad. The attorney-general said that he had no intention of resigning, added Haaretz.
Opposition politicians on the right strongly attacked Barak over his comments.
Likud MK Limor Livnat said that the prime minister had failed to "internalize" the rules of democracy.
Justice Minister Yossi Beilin said he believed Rubinstein's letter did not bar the government from engaging in talks with the Palestinians, but he told Army Radio that he would not remain "for a single minute" in a government that fired the attorney general, said the paper -- Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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