High Court Freezes State Prosecutor Appointment

Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The High Court on Wednesday froze the appointment of Orly Ben-Ari (Ginzberg) as temporary State Prosecutor, after the Movement for Quality Government on filed a petition with the court to strike it down. The appointment is “radically unreasonable and is motivated by interests that are not within the professional realm, and out of suspect motivations. The result of this appointment will be a weakening of the ability of those whose job it is to ensure the rule of law to do their jobs,” the group said in its petition, adding that Justice Minister Amir Ohana, who made the appointment, is “a temporary minister in a temporary government,” and does not have the authority to appoint anyone to such an important position. Ben-Ari’s appointment will be frozen while the court considers the matter.

Ohana on Tuesday announced that he had selected Ben-Ari as the temporary State Prosecutor, after weeks of speculation on who his choice would be. Ginzberg is taking over for Shai Nitzan, who this week retired from the post. Because the government is currently only a transfer one, an official State Prosecutor cannot be named, and Ginzberg is an interim appointment until such time as a permanent prosecutor can be appointed. Ginzberg has served in the Prosecutor’s office for 28 years, and her last job was deputy prosecutor of the Central District.

Commenting on the appointment, Ohana said she was a worthy candidate. “I have no doubt she will ensure that we preserve everything we need to preserve, and even further ensure that the rule of law and the faith of the public in the justice system grows.” Nitzan said that she was “an intelligent, practical, and hard-working individual. Over the years she has handled many kinds of cases, especially in the security area, and is known as an expert in this field.”

But State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit expressed strong opposition to the appointment. In a harsh letter to Ohana, Mandelblit wrote that “this appointment radically veers from the expected reasonable criteria for appointments, and there is sufficient legal ground to bar it.” Ben-Ari is not at the professional level required for this position, and the appointment “violates the principle that such appointments must be above suspicion.” In recent weeks, Mandelblit has expressed the opinion that Ohana should not appoint a temporary prosecutor at all – despite the fact that law authorizes him to do so. In response, Ohana said that “leaving such an important office unoccupied is unreasonable.”

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