Former Minister of Justice Yaakov Neeman has been acquitted of the four charges filed against him, on suspicion of obstruction of justice and suborning a witness. Coalition members have demanded he be reinstated in the position of Minister of Justice.
At the time of Ne’eman’s resignation due to the charges against him, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that he would appoint an Acting Minister of Justice and hoped Ne’eman would soon return to office.
Neeman, a corporate attorney and former law professor, was named as the candidate for justice minister to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet in June, 1996. The former law professor at Bar Ilan University is well-respected for his knowledge of the law, and the appointment of a religious justice minister was considered a major milestone by the religious Jewish community.
At that time, Neeman was also being investigated for intimidating a key witness against MK Arye Deri. The witness, Martin Brown, gave an affidavit to the police alleging that when he approached Neeman in search of counsel, Ne’eman had reprimanded him for assisting in the police investigation. Questioned later in London, Brown retracted the testimony.
In July 1996, the ministerial committee approved the Norwegian Law to be brought before the Knesset. The law was drafted and prepared by Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman according to Netanyahu’s instructions. Once approved, eleven Ministers and Deputy Ministers were to resign from the Knesset, and twelve new MKs sworn in.
The Norwegian Law would have opened the Knesset doors to four new Likud party members, two from NRP, plus one each from Tzomet, Gesher, United Torah Judaism, the Third Way, Yisrael Ba’aliya and Shas.
Reaction to the Norwegian Law was negative and it did not pass the Knesset plenum
On September 4, 1996, Ne'eman resigned after then Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair instructed that he be charged with tampering with a witness in the Aryeh Deri trial. Netanyahu appointed then-Minister of Health Tzachi Hanegbi as interim justice minister, in place of Ne'eman.