Government Approves Erdan’s Choice for Temporary Police Commissioner

Moshe Edri. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Until the question of Moshe Edri’s appointment as Israel’s Commissioner of Police is sorted out, a temporary replacement will lead the police department – and on Sunday, the government approved Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s proposal to appoint Police Commander Moti Cohen as the temporary stand-in. Cohen will take over as Commissioner Monday, when the term of outgoing Commissioner Roni Alshich ends. Cohen’s term will extend for 45 days or until the approval of Edri, whichever comes first.

Alsheich’s last official act as Commissioner will come Sunday night, when he lights the first Chanukah light at the Kosel, together with Harav Shmuel Rabinowitz, the Rav of the Kosel and Mekomos Hakedoshim.

A livid Erdan said Friday that he would not rest until Edri was appointed Commissioner. Edri’s name was set to be proposed to the government for approval Sunday, until the Goldberg panel, an extra-governmental panel that vets public servants, voted against recommending Edri for the job. The panel, headed by former High Court Judge Moshe Goldberg, decided Thursday night against the approval of Edri to replace Alshich. Edri has held numerous senior positions in the police department, including heading the traffic police, as well as commanding both the Yerushalayim and Tel Aviv Districts of the police.

The vote of panel members was actually even in favor and against, and Goldberg, who as chair generally does not vote, decided to use his authority as head of the panel to recommend against Edri’s appointment. The main motivation for those voting against Edri was a meeting he had with an attorney for Rafi Rotem, a longtime intelligence officer with the Tel Aviv branch of the Tax Authority’s investigations department. Rotem was a witness who appeared before the panel and opposed Edri’s nomination.

Rotem had testified about what he alleged were several instances of police corruption when Edri was head of the police department’s Yarkon District, with Edri throwing him out of the police station. In another run-in with the department, Rotem alleged that police attacked him when he was at a station. Rotem, it should be noted, had been arrested numerous times on charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with police investigations. Edri was extensively questioned by the panel on the meeting, and was even subjected to a lie detector test, which he passed.

Erdan dismissed the allegations as nothing more than rumor, and insufficient reason to recommend against a candidate, which in any event was a decision the government was supposed to be in charge of. Speaking to Kan News Friday, Erdan said that he would try to persuade members of the Goldberg Panel, which reviewed Edri’s history – and recommended he not be given the job – to change its decision. In any event, “even if I fail to do so, I will recommend that the government approve Edri’s appointment.”

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said that the panel that reviewed these nominations should be disbanded altogether, as they did not offer any benefits. “The decision they made is unreasonable,” she said. “If the nomination is brought to the Cabinet for a vote, I will approve it.” Shaked said that “it was inappropriate to ban a candidate just because he met with someone. Edri is an officer who has received many commendations, and has a great deal of experience, even if he, like everyone, is not perfect.”

Erdan said that he “could not understand why that meeting should be a reason to prevent the appointment. As a member of the panel that appoints judges, I have met many times with judges who wanted to convince me to change my mind on their appointment. What is wrong with that?”

In a social media post, MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home) called the campaign against Edri a “witch hunt, and no reason for preventing him from taking the job. I call on the government to approve his appointment, for the security of all of us.”