Netanyahu, Mandelblit in Confrontation Over Conflict of Interest

Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The confrontation between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏ and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit over the former’s power to appoint law enforcement officials intensified on Tuesday.

Mandelblit insisted that a conflict of interest arrangement drawn up by him for the prime minister is legally binding, a point which Netanyahu has disputed.

In a letter to the High Court, Mandelblit said the legal framework is not a recommendation, or dependent on the prime minister’s “good will,” according to The Times of Israel.

Under the arrangement, Netanyahu also cannot be involved in any matters that affect witnesses or other defendants in his trial, or legislation that would influence the legal proceedings against him.

Regarding appointments, he would be barred from choosing senior police and prosecutor officials, areas under the responsibility of the Communications Ministry, or in the Judicial Appointments Committee, and to the High Court, which would hear any appeals in the corruption cases against him.

Netanyahu’s lawyers reject the imposition of such rules.

“The law does not grant the attorney general the authority to determine conflict of interest on a particular issue,” they wrote on his behalf, claiming that only the prime minister himself is authorized to make such a determination.

The High Court will consider the issue on Thursday.