Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit weighed in Wednesday on the question of conflict of interest in Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon’s involvement in the consideration of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s request for immunity from prosecution.
In an opinion submitted to the High Court, Mandelblit backed Yinon’s own argument that since his opinions have so far been given strictly regarding matters of parliamentary procedure — chiefly, whether the speaker can prevent the MKs from convening committees to review the PM’s request during an interim government — there is no problem.
The Likud has alleged that Yinon should be disqualified from the process because his wife served on the team of prosecutors who recommended indictment of Netanyahu in three cases of criminal corruption.
Yinon challenged the motives of the petitioners, who demanded his recusal only after he wrote that the Knesset could deliberate the immunity issue now. Only because the “conclusion was not to the satisfaction of the petitioners,” even though they were previously aware of his wife’s involvement in the Netanyahu probes.
“This fact indicates that the only purpose of the claim is to diminish the legitimacy of the office of the Knesset legal adviser and deter him personally from fulfilling his job to the best of his judgment and without fear,” Yinon asserted.
He also reiterated that to avoid any possible conflict of interest he would not take part in the immunity hearings themselves, “including on procedural questions that will come up during the deliberations.”
On an ironic note, Mandelblit mentioned that Yinon’s wife did not make the decision to indict Netanyahu and was only one of a large number of lawyers on the cases.
In addition, The Jerusalem Post pointed out that, according to media reports, she actually was chosen by Mandelblit to work to scale down the charges against the prime minister. Charges of bribery were, in fact, reduced to breach of trust in Cases 1000 and 2000, and it was said that she was in part responsible.
The Court did not say when it will hand down its ruling. Meanwhile, the Knesset is moving forward on the immunity issue.