Appointment of State Attorney Sparks Controversy

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israeli politicians were split along ideological lines in their reaction on Tuesday morning to the nomination of Shai Nitzan for state attorney of Israel.

Nitzan, the current Deputy Attorney-General for Special Matters, was denounced by nationalist MKs as an extreme leftist who is hostile to the communities in Yehudah and Shomron and who was chosen through a rigged system.

Nitzan’s supporters on the left answered that he is a talented and unbiased prosecutor who is being unfairly pilloried.

MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud) called Nitzan “a leftist radical among radicals, a man who used his public role in order to advance a clear political agenda and illegally co-opted more and more authority for himself.”

MK Orit Struk (Jewish Home) blasted the government which, she contended, “with its own hands, appoints a state attorney whose hostility to the enterprise in Yehudah and Shomron is known to all — will not be able to complain afterward that the legal echelon is forcing it to carry out a policy that is contrary to its will. The government must wake up, immediately!”

Tourism Minister Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beiteinu) said he would vote against the nomination on grounds that the selection process was flawed.

“Without any connection to the man, I reject with all my might the practice that has taken root here in which a search committee announces one candidate who is brought to the government for approval…I’m voting against the appointment and demand that three candidates be presented.”

Coalition Chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) also asserted that Nitzan’s nomination was “carried out in a fundamentally faulty process. The production line of senior legal system officials continues to operate in the ‘one member brings another’ method.”

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni congratulated Nitzan and said she would bring his nomination to the cabinet for final approval.

She praised him as one who faced “not only the regular challenges before the state attorney” but also “building and strengthening the public’s faith in the Israeli legal system.”

Opposition leader MK Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) welcomed the decision. “In the face of persistent, heavy pressure that seeks to crush the institutions of the rule of law, a clear representative of the rule of law is needed. A man who is independent in his thought and opinions, who has already proven in the past that he is not cowed by threats and pressure. I wish him success in his position and hope that he will continue to safeguard the independent status of the state attorney.”

Former Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman defended Nitzan against charges of bias.

“Shai Nitzan is not politically biased and is not affected by any political background. I have sat with him in many discussions on a variety of issues. He discusses every issue to the point and according to facts without involving politics. Had someone else been selected, people would have said he is biased against the Arab public. These are all empty slogans by people looking for wrong headlines,” the former minister said.