Rubinstein, a lifelong Israeli diplomat and civil servant, has had an influential role in that country's internal and external politics, most notably in helping to shape its peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan.
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Rubinstein launched a career in law, serving as a legal advisor to the ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs during the mid-1970s. His diplomatic career started in 1977, as from then through 1979 he was a member of Israel's delegation to the peace talks with Egypt that led to the signing of the Camp David Accords between the two countries. Upon their completion, he became in 1980 an Assistant Director-General of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in charge of implementing the normalization of relations with Egypt.
During the early 1980s he served in a variety of capacities in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in 1985-1986 served as Deputy Chief of Mission for the Israeli embassy in the United States. In 1986 he was appointed Cabinet Secretary and in this capacity he served in various roles relating to US-Israeli relations.
In 1991 he was again a member of an Israeli peace negotiating team, traveling as part of the Israeli delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference that opened the negotiations (for which he served as chairman of the Israeli delegation) that would eventually lead to the 1993 Oslo peace accords, a major breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Following the conclusion of these talks, he chaired the Israeli delegation to peace talks with Jordan, which concluded successfully with the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan.
He then turned towards domestic Israeli jurisprudence, serving as a judge on Jerusalem's District Court from 1995 to 1997, and then being appointed Israel's Attorney General, a position he held until January 25, 2004. Throughout his career he has written several books on Israel's Supreme Court and especially focusing on the relation of Judaism to Israeli political and legal life. In this role he has gained a reputation for being somewhat of a liberal reformer, going up against the established might of Orthodox Judaism in favor of religious pluralism to represent all factions of Judaism. His most important success in this endeavor has been to gain Reform and Conservative Judaism seats on Jerusalem's religious council, previously controlled entirely by the Orthodox. He has proposed opening a section of the Western Wall for non-Orthodox religious services, but this has not yet been successful.
Rubinstein has been criticized for being too hesitant or indecisive in cases involving powerful Israeli officials. In particular, he was criticized for having moved too slowly on corruption charges involving Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his son Gilad Sharon. In the weeks following Rubinstein's end of term as Attorney General The State Attorney, Edna Arbel, was quick to recommend that Sharon be indicted on bribery charges, however Rubinstein's replacement Menachem Mazuz subsequently exonerated Sharon and his sons and did not press charges of corruption, due to insufficient evidence.
In May 2004, Rubinstein was appointed to Israel's Supreme Court.
Rubinstein is married with four daughters.
- Elyakim Rubinstein on the official website of the Israeli Courts
- Sharon's son ordered to hand over documents CNN, 29 March 2004
- "רובינשטיין אליקים". news1.co.il.
- "רובינשטיין: בעל זיקה דתית וממסדית" (in Hebrew). HaAretz. June 30, 2006.