The term of current State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan ends on December 15th and Justice Minister Amir Ohana announced that he is appointing an interim state prosecutor.
If Israel wasn’t in a transitional period of multiple elections and caretaker governments, a special committee would already have been hard at work to replace Nitzan. Normally the justice minister appoints the special committee and it is headed by the attorney general. However, due to the current political imbroglio, Attorney General Mandelblit said that Ohana does not have the authority to form the committee in the current transitional government.
There are two options: Nitzan could continue serving until a government is formed or an interim replacement could be appointed. Ohana, a close ally of Netanyahu, is choosing not to continue the term of Nitzan, who formulated the recent indictments against Netanyahu and is considered a left-leaning senior official.
Ohana released a list of five possible candidates on Monday but Mandelblit responded that only one has enough experience for the position – Deputy State Attorney for Criminal Matters Shlomo Lemberger, adding that under normal political circumstances, he himself would head the committee to select a candidate. Mandelblit also told close associates that he will fight against appointing any candidate whom he feels is unsuitable and will appeal to the Supreme Court if necessary.
On Tuesday morning, Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich tweeted: “I call on the justice minister to refuse to give in to the unlawful, immoral, unjust and undemocratic dictates of the attorney general and to appoint whomever he feels is most suitable as the acting replacement for the state prosecutor. If the Supreme Court freezes or revokes the appointment then there won’t be a state prosecutor.”
The other candidates on Ohana’s list are Deputy Attorney-General Raz Nizri, deputy chief of the Central District Attorney’s Office Orli Ben Ari-Ginzburg, Economic Crimes Division Director Dan Eldad, and prosecutor Oshra Gaz-Eisenstein from the Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office.
One senior official from the state prosecutor’s office who was missing from the list was Deputy State Attorney Liat Ben-Ari, who led the prosecution against Netanyahu.
Ohana, like Netanyahu, vehemently attacked the state prosecution – which is under his jurisdiction – following the announced indictments against Netanyahu last month. “There are prosecutors breaking the law and nobody checks them,” Ohana said. “I call on the state comptroller to look into this and examine these accusations.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)