Attorney General of Israel

The attorney general of Israel (Hebrew: היועץ המשפטי לממשלה, Ha-Yo'etz Ha-Mishpati La-Memshala, lit.'Legal Advisor to the Government') heads the legal system of the executive branch and the public prosecution of the state. The attorney general advises the government in legal matters, represents the state authorities in court, advises in the preparation of legal memoranda for the government in general and the justice minister in particular. Likewise she or he examines and advises upon private member's bills in the Knesset.

Attorney General
היועץ המשפטי לממשלה
Hayoetz Hamishpati Lamemshala
Gali Baharav-Miara
since 7 February 2022
AppointerCabinet of Israel
Term lengthSix years, single term
Inaugural holderYa'akov Shimshon Shapira

Additionally, the attorney general is tasked with protecting the rule of law and, as such, entrusted with protecting the public interest from possible harm by government authorities. It is an independent appointed position, one of the most important and influential in the Israeli democracy, and a central institution in the framework of the Israeli legal system. Owing to the common law tradition of the domestic legal system, the duties of the attorney general are not codified in law and have been born out of precedent and tradition over the years. In February 2022, lawyer Gali Baharav-Miara received unanimous backing from the cabinet to become the first-ever female attorney general.[1]

Duties edit

The attorney general has four main duties:[2]

  1. Head of the public prosecution system
  2. Representative of the state in all legal proceedings
  3. Chief legal counsel to the government
  4. Representative of the public interest in any legal matter

History edit

In 1997 a commission in the chairmanship of the former president of the Israeli Supreme Court, Meir Shamgar, had been established for examination of the possibilities of the future legislation on the subject of the attorney general, and recommended that the official title of his or her position will be changed from "the legal adviser to the government" to "the chief legal adviser" to reflect his responsibility for ensuring the rule of law in all of the arms of government, and not only as an adviser to the government itself in matters of law. Likewise the commission recommended that the adviser will be appointed by the government according to the recommendations of a public commission, that will include five members: a retired judge of the supreme court, a former justice minister or attorney general, a Knesset member who will be chosen by the Constitutional Affairs committee of the Knesset, an attorney who will be chosen by the national council of the Israel Bar Association, and a legal expert in the subjects of civil and criminal law who will be chosen by the heads of the university law schools in Israel—in order to ensure the choosing of an appropriate person who possesses the fitting qualifications for the job. This recommendation regarding the selection committee was adopted in August 2000, but the recommendation regarding the title of the position was not adopted.

It is customary that the decision whom to select for the legal adviser position out of the list of nominees that the public commission recommended is done by the justice minister whose selection is brought to the approval of the government, which usually approves the appointment.

The manner in which the Attorney General carries out the duties assigned to his or her position is derived to a large extent from the personality of the person holding the position. Two of the legal advisers, Aharon Barak and Yitzhak Zamir, who came to the position from academia, were distinguished in the decisiveness that they demonstrated for the guarding of the rule of law in Israel, even when their ideas conflicted with those of the government.

Deputy positions edit

  • Deputy Attorney General for consultation
  • Deputy Attorney General for legislation
  • Deputy Attorney General for Hebrew (i.e., Jewish) law
  • Deputy Attorney General for special assignments
  • Deputy Attorney General for civil matters
  • Deputy Attorney General for criminal matters
  • Deputy Attorney General for fiscal-economic matters


List of attorneys general edit

Name Term
Ya'akov Shimshon Shapira 1948–1950
Haim Cohn 1950–1960
Gideon Hausner 1960–1963
Moshe Ben-Ze'ev 1963–1968
Meir Shamgar 1968–1975
Aharon Barak 1975–1978
Yitzhak Zamir 1978–1986
Yosef Harish 1986–1993
Michael Ben-Yair 1993–1997
Roni Bar-On 1997
Elyakim Rubinstein 1997–2004
Menachem Mazuz 2004–2010
Yehuda Weinstein 2010–2016
Avichai Mandelblit 2016–2022
Gali Baharav-Miara 2022–


Comparison with government legal advisors in other countries

The position of binding advice and representational monopoly in Israel is exceptional and even unique by global standards. According to Eitan Levontin, the legal situation in Israel is not a minority opinion, but rather a single opinion.[5]

References edit

  1. ^ "Amid spyware crisis, ministers approve Gali Baharav-Miara as new attorney general." The Times of Israel, February 7, 2022.
  2. ^ "תפקידי היועץ המשפטי לממשלה" הנחיות היועץ המשפטי לממשלה 1.0000 (90.000) (התשס"ג) [Roles of the Attorney General, Attorney General Directive 1.0000 (90.000)] (PDF) (in Hebrew), retrieved 27 August 2014
  3. ^ "Attorney General of Israel Official Webpage". Attorney General of Israel. 2016.
  4. ^ Israeli Attorneys General Through the Generations. PDF(2016)
  5. ^ Levontin, Eitan. "Critical Introduction to State Representation before the Courts" (PDF). Mishpatim.

Further reading edit

  • Zilber, Dina. In The Name of The Law. Kinneret, Zmora Bitan, Dvir. 2012 (in Hebrew).

External links edit