Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair today (Tuesday) announced his decision to resign. The resignation will take effect as of January 1st, 1997. Ben-Yair gave no reasons for his resignation which was announced in a joint communique issued by the Attorney-General himself and Justice Minister Tzachi Hanegbi.
In recent talks with Hanegbi, Ben-Yair said he no longer wished to retain his office, particularly in view of personal attacks launched against him by cabinet ministers, religious circles, Bar Association head Dror Hoter-Yishai and others.
Hanegbi and some of his close confidantes accordingly began seriously considering candidates for the post of Attorney General. The list of candidates presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu includes Restraint of Trade Commissioner Dr. Yoram Turbovitz, State Attorney Edna Arbel and Adv. Dov Weissglass.
In recent months, Hanegbi has been giving Ben-Yair his full personal and professional backing. His position was that Ben-Yair must himself be allowed to choose when to resign, and that his resignation or dismissal should in any event not be initiated, thereby preventing further upheavals in the judiciary system.
Ben-Yair decided to resign some weeks ago, since he felt he had done all he could as Attorney General and because he learned that Hanegbi was already considering candidates for the job. Ben-Yair kept his decision to himself, planning to announce it shortly after lodging the proposed indictment against former Minister of Justice Yaakov Ne’eman.
“Globes”, however, learned of Ben-Yair’s decision yesterday (Monday). “Globes” forwarded him some questions on the subject, which went unanswered, on the grounds that Ben-Yair was in conference. He was again asked by “Globes” to respond today, and thereupon decided to make his public announcement earlier than planned.
The joint communique stated that Ben-Yair had “approached the Minister of Justice on December 1, 1996, asking to resign from his work in the civil service. He reiterated this position in his written request, today, to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice”. The communique stated that “the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice have regretfully accepted the request, but showed understanding for the motives of the Attorney General”.