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Elyakim Rubinstein approved as Israel’s new attorney general

JERUSALEM, Jan. 29 (JTA) — The Israeli Cabinet has unanimously approved the appointment of Jerusalem District Judge Elyakim Rubinstein as the country’s next attorney general. The appointment of Rubinstein, a widely respected jurist, peace negotiator and civil servant who served in both Labor and Likud governments, encountered one stumbling block. The Cabinet deliberations Wednesday were halted at one point when it was discovered that Rubinstein was refusing on principle to take a polygraph test. The lie detector test is not formally required for the appointment, and the government was able to get around the issue by agreeing to create a committee that would examine whether civil servants should be subjected to such tests. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Cabinet members will sit on the committee. Rubinstein, meanwhile, was expected to take up his new post by mid- February. Rubinstein, 50, was made district judge two years ago. Prior to that, he was a member of the Israeli delegation in the peace talks with Egypt, and he led the Israeli negotiating team in peace talks with Jordan. He has also served as Cabinet secretary. In a separate development, a former justice minister in the Netanyahu government pleaded innocent Wednesday to charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Appearing at the opening of his trial in the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court, Ya’acov Ne’eman denied that he had tried to persuade a prosecution witness in Shas Knesset member Aryeh Deri’s trial to change his testimony and not to cooperate with police. Ne’eman resigned in August, two months after his appointment, when then-Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair ordered an investigation into the allegations. Ne’eman’s defense attorney acknowledged that there were some mistakes in his client’s affidavit regarding his relationship with Deri and the witness, Martin Brown. However, he attributed it to Ne’eman’s being under a pressured schedule during the time Netanyahu was putting together his government.