Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit moved to block Justice Minister Amir Ohana’s appointment of an interim state prosecutor, saying there’s a “legal impediment,” to such a decision.
Neither Mandelblit nor Ohana show any sign of backing down, and the issue will likely be taken to the High Court.
Ohana announced on Tuesday his intention to appoint Central District deputy prosecutor Orly Ginsberg Ben-Ari as interim state prosecutor to replace Shai Nitzan, whose term ended on Monday.
In a letter sent to Ohana, Mandelblit wrote that as acting justice minister in a caretaker government which lacks the confidence of the Knesset, such an important post could not be filled as it would be under normal circumstances.
The attorney general characterized the appointment as extremely unreasonable, well beyond what is legally permissible for a transitional government.
In response, Ohana was dismissive: “According to Mandelblit’s opinion, in the entire prosecution, with all of its prosecutors, there is only one special candidate who can fill in as state attorney — this is absurd,” he said in an interview with Channel 12. “I consulted with him more than once or twice. His opinion is extremely unreasonable.”
If the matter cannot be resolved between them, various NGOs are expected to file a petition to the High Court opposing the appointment, according to The Jerusalem Post.
Earlier in the day, Civil Service Commissioner Daniel Hershkowitz objected on the grounds that the appointment was not viable for bureaucratic reasons.
In his letter to Ohana, Hershkowitz argued wrote that Ginsberg Ben-Ari was a qualified candidate, but that her third-tier position in the state prosecution — below the state prosecutor and the district prosecutor — meant “she was not part of the senior leadership in the organizational hierarchy, a fact that could undermine the proper functioning of the state prosecution,” The Times of Israel quoted the letter as saying.
Considering the “unique characteristics of the post,” Hershkowitz said, “my position is that at this time it would be proper to appoint the most senior official in the prosecution that the attorney general agrees to.”
Mandelblit in fact called on Ohana to support his choice of Deputy State Attorney Shlomo Lemberger, currently number two prosecutor nation-wide.
Meanwhile, in another question of interim appointments, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz said his party would not stand in the way of Likud’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s plan to appoint a permanent police commissioner.
“Even in this politicized climate, we will back any responsible and well-considered move on the part of the Israeli government. We will act responsibly, and put Israel’s citizens first, even if it proves damaging to us politically and beneficial to our rivals. So be it,” Gantz said.
Erdan sounded out Mandelblit in a letter in which he noted that “in the past, I decided not to nominate candidates to these positions in light of the dissolution of the Knesset and the expectation that a new government would be formed following the elections.”
“However, in light of the significant and changing circumstances of the election period and the start of another election campaign, from which there is still no certainty a government will emerge, I would like to bring before the government the question of approval of candidates for permanent office,” Erdan wrote.