Attorney General Menahem (Meni) Mazuz may reject Minister of Finance Abraham Hirchson's decision to take a leave of absence since the action represents a farfetched interpretation of the law covering governing such practices.
Hirchson has, in effect, declared that he is temporarily indisposed. The Basic Law: The Government (1992) provides that, "Where a minister has ceased to serve in his post or is unable to fulfill his duties due to a temporary indisposition, the prime minister, or another minister appointed by the cabinet, shall fulfill these duties instead." The law allows for a leave of absence of up to three months.
Mazuz supports the approach which views the law as a provision enabling a minister who has taken ill or is undergoing surgery, to take extended leave without having to resign, in the knowledge that his incapacitation is temporary. Mazuz feels that this action is inappropriate for a minister under investigation by police, especially in a case where the inquiry is nearing completion and an evidentiary basis for a prosecution exists against the official under investigation.
Mazuz will have to respond by April 29 to a petition submitted by the Movement for Quality Government demanding that Hirchson be removed from his post. He will draft his final position after he is briefed on the inquiry today by Israel Police Investigations and Intelligence Department head Police Maj. Gen Yohanan Danino and his team.
In a related development, The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel has called on Mazuz to direct Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to hand over the Finance Ministry Portfolio to another minister rather than holding it himself. The forum says that the prime minister is under investigation regarding his role in the tender for the privatization of Bank Leumi (TASE: LUMI) and some of the witnesses are Ministry of Finance employees.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on April 22, 2007
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