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Haaretz: After Attorney General's Request, Netanyahu Retracts Disqualification of Israel Prize Judges


World  (tags: Human Rights, israel, Israel Prize judges, interference, politics, elections, David Grossman, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira, Ariel Hirschfeld, Avner Holtzman, Chayim Sharir )

Evelyn
- 1434 days ago - haaretz.com
Weinstein advised Netanyahu against any interference in the process of the state's most prestigious cultural awards, due to the procedures' proximity to the upcoming elections. State Comptroller also requested Netanyahu retract the disqualifications



   

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Evelyn B (63)
Saturday February 14, 2015, 1:38 pm
After AG's request, Netanyahu retracts disqualification of Israel Prize judges
Prime minister's office says AG's position to refrain from involvement in the process during election season will be honored; two vetoed-judges claim they will agree to return after PM's statement.
By Or Kashti, Barak Ravid and Jonathan Lis | Feb. 13, 2015

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu retracted his disqualification of three of the judges selected for the Israel Prize award jury, after being advised to refrain from interfering with the award process by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Thursday.

Weinstein advised Netanyahu against any interference in the process of the state's most prestigious cultural awards, due to the procedures' proximity to the upcoming elections. State Comptroller Yosef Shapira had also requested Netanyahu retract the disqualifications on Thursday.

The resignations were sparked by Haaretz’s report last Sunday that Netanyahu’s bureau had vetoed two people originally nominated to serve on the prize jury for literature: professors Avner Holtzman and Ariel Hirschfeld. Later in the week, Haaretz reported that the bureau also vetoed producer Chayim Sharir’s nomination to serve on the jury for the Israel Prize in film.

As of Friday afternoon, eight of the 13 judges selected for three different award categories had resigned in protest of the prime minister's involvement in the award procedures, which sources in the Justice department told Haaretz called "bordering on illegal." The last remaining judge selected to serve on the jury for the Israel Prize in literary research resigned on Thusday, leaving nobody to choose the prize winner. Only two judges remain on the film award jury.

Also on Friday afternoon, Holtzman and Hirschfeld issued a statement, claiming that they would return to their positions following Netanyahu's declaration, and if the attorney general would guarantee that the judging would proceed properly.

"Following the statement from the prime minister retracting the disqualification of Israel Prize judges, and guaranteeing that he will not interfere in the judging process, we would be glad to return and serve as judges in the literary research category. At the same time, revealing the names of the judges, and some of the candidates, creates a significant problem for holding a professional and fair judging. We will serve as judges only after the attorney general finds a way to guarantee proper proceedings," read the statement from Holtzman and Hirschfeld.

On Thursday, award-winning novelist David Grossman joined the list of cultural figures nominated for the award to withdraw their candidacy. Grossman withdrew his candidacy due to what he called Netanyahu’s incitement against Israel’s senior scientists and authors.

Two of the three ousted judges said they would return to the jury if asked to do so on Friday, and on condition that judges and candidates that stepped out of the proceeding in protest would return.

PM will seek to redetermine criteria for judges pick

On Friday morning, the legal advisor of the Prime Minister's Office replied to Weinstein's letter, saying Netanyau wished to inform Weinstein that he would honor the AG's instructions not to handle the appointment of the committee members who select the Israel Prize winners during the election campaign.

In addition, the letter also states that Netanyahu wished to make it clear that if he is re-elected, he will act to establish a committee to redetermine the criteria for the appointment of the members of the Israel Prize committee - according to the recommendations of the Attorney General and based on the proposal made by the State Comptroller in his report from 2010.

The Likud said: "The Prime Minister respects the instructions of the Attorney General. The Prime Minister is convinced that the process of choosing a number of candidates for judges for the Israel Prize, as presented to him for preliminary consideration, gave clear preference to those with very extremist and severely controversial opinions - including support for refusal to serve in the IDF. This process did not provide proper representation to large and important parts of society, culture and the Israeli experience, including a lack of appropriate gender and sectoral representation."

Two of three ousted judges say will return if asked to

Holzman and Hirschfeld, the two professors who were disqualified from the literature award committee, said they would return to the jury, if they were asked to do so, and if the other judges and nominees who stepped down would return.

"If we are asked to, I suppose we will return to the committee," said Holzman. "I feel it is our duty to restore the prize, as much as is possible." He added that he felt it would be appropriate if the prime minister apologized for his accusations, "but that appears to be an unrealistic expectation."

The third ousted judge, producer Chaim Sharir, said he had no interest in returning to the cinema award committee. "There is a limit. I want no part in this whole thing anymore," he said on Friday.

The author Sami Michael, who is among the candidates for the prize who canceled their candidacy, said he would not reverse course.

"Israeli literature has been unnecessarily, embarrassingly rattled due to the recent events. Amid the acrid atmosphere that has arisen, I do not wish to retract my decision to remove my candidacy for the Israel Prize award this year."

"I hope we will find a more befitting way to conduct [the proceedings of] the award, which has lost much of its prestige," he added.

The Zionist Union, for their part, issued a statement complimenting the Attorney General "who understood what not everyone understood: Netanyahu does not care about authors, Israeli culture and the Israeli public." "If Netanyahu wants to fight over Knesset seats with Orit Strock, then he should not do so at the expense of the cultural community, who - as opposed to [Netanyahu] - contributed a thing or two to the citizens of Israel," the statement read. "In another month Netanyahu's failed term will enter the history books as a dark period in the history of the State of Israel."
 

Evelyn B (63)
Saturday February 14, 2015, 1:41 pm
Freedom of speech was being challenged from the top ... ... because the PM considered that the judges hold political positions that don't support his ...

There is some hope in the fact the the AG & the SC realise & opposed directly such interference in a cultural event organisation ...
 

Darren Woolsey (218)
Sunday February 15, 2015, 12:07 am
I gather the impression that Netanyahu would like to own and rule over his own little Island. . .
 

Lona Goudswaard (66)
Sunday February 15, 2015, 9:31 am
Like any potentate before him, Netanyahu is becoming rather pathetic in his attempts to keep himself in power and weed out his "enemies".
 

Evelyn B (63)
Sunday February 15, 2015, 11:41 am
:^) Lona!
 
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