Coalition whip MK Miki Zohar (Likud) said in an interview Wednesday morning that the Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit must resign, after recordings dating back five years were made public in which he is heard sharply attacking former State Attorney Shai Nitzan.
Mandelblit was taped in several conversations with Effi Naveh, who then served as the head of the Bar Association, and can be heard telling him that Nitzan “is working against me in an unacceptable manner, out of ulterior motives,” and that “he won’t be the one to make the decisions.” Mandelblit was referring to a case that had been opened against him, expressing the hope that it would not impact on his appointment as Attorney General; he accused both Shai Nitzan and Dina Zilber, now his deputy, of “stitching up a case” against him.
Mandelblit was eventually appointed to the post of Attorney General but remained concerned about the still-open case, telling Naveh that Nitzan “has me by the throat … in the end, I’m going to explode.”
Responding to the publication of the recordings on Channel 12 on Tuesday, Mandelblit’s office released a statement saying: “The Attorney General very much regrets the publication of private conversations held between close friends in which he expressed himself in rather loose and perhaps inappropriate language.
“Dr. Mandelblit’s working relationship with the former State Attorney, Adv. Shai Nitzan, was excellent, and the two worked in full cooperation to protect the rule of law in the State of Israel. The achievements as a result of this cooperation speak for themselves. Likewise with Adv. Dina Zilber, with whom all previous issues were straightened out when Mandelblit took office – and he recently even requested an extension of her term for another three months.”
His statement noted that “a panel of five High Court judges has ruled that Mandelblit’s actions [in the case referred to] were not flawed, and his lawyer appealed to the prosecution to rule that the case should be closed. Senior prosecutors stated at the time that in light of the High Court’s ruling, this would indeed be legally valid, but that the formal decision to close the case would not be made at the present time, due to the fact that the prosecutors were in a subordinate position to the Attorney General.”
However, MK Zohar claims that Mandelblit is clearly “motivated by ideological considerations – that’s the takeaway from all this. I’m not making threats when I say such a thing – I’m simply stating the facts. Mandelblit now has no other option than to resign, and to cancel the indictments against Prime Minister Netanyahu.”
Zohar added that “Shai Nitzan has more information than this on Mandelblit that could put him behind bars. What we’ve seen so far is just a small fraction of the whole – but if Mandelblit doesn’t resign and cancel the indictments then a lot more stuff is going to come out.”
A statement on behalf of the prime minister said that “the words of MK Miki Zohar were said without the prime minister’s knowledge and do not represent him. The prime minister did not discuss the matter with MK Zohar.
“The prime minister regrets the things in the interview that are not acceptable to him.”