Menachem Mazuz: Israel must probe Gaza war to counter Goldstone
Outgoing Attorney General: Goldstone report is a serious threat that will continue to haunt Israel.
The Goldstone report is a serious threat to Israel that will "continue to haunt us and take away our legitimacy," outgoing Attorney General Menachem Mazuz told Haaretz in an interview.
"There is a danger here of a 'Serbianization' of Israel," even though the report on the Gaza war was biased and contains unsubstantiated conclusions, Mazuz said. "Therefore I believe that Israel has a clear interest in conducting a serious, expert examination that will deal with the report and produce an opposing report. It would be a serious mistake not to establish some sort of committee. We must remove the shame of accusing Israel of being a country that commits war crimes."
In the interview, published in Haaretz Magazine on Friday, Mazuz also discussed the scandals that rocked Israel during his term. He defended his decision to close the case on the so-called Greek island affair.
In that case, David Appel, an associate of former prime minister Ariel Sharon, then a Likud minister, was accused of having received favorable treatment from Sharon and others that let him and colleagues buy land on a Greek island for a resort.
"I have absolutely no regrets about that decision," Mazuz said. "I consider it one of the important decisions I made. Maybe the most important. I think we would have collapsed in court with that case. And a collapse in an indictment against a prime minister has far-reaching implications."
Mazuz also rejected the contention that he persecuted and unseated former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
"I can say that with the exception of one marginal episode, which did not make the headlines, not one of the things we latched onto turned out to be without foundation," Mazuz said. "In each subject it emerged that the suspicions were real. Some of them led eventually to an indictment, while in others the findings we were able to arrive at were not at a level to justify an indictment. But none of the cases of management and behavior merit a prize for proper quality of government."
Regarding the suspicions against Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Mazuz said that the authorities were "dealing with considerable suspicions regarding meaningful acts over the past decade, and there is a clear public interest in completing the investigation. A decision in this matter is expected shortly."
Mazuz said he was within a few weeks of completing the investigation when his term ended.
For Mazuz, the most dangerous affair was the Tax Authority case. "If this affair had not been uncovered and brought to a halt, we would have arrived at a phenomenon like the Mafia in the United States - when the Mafia buys a key figure in the judicial system, in the governmental system and in the legislative system."
Mazuz says he has no misgivings about the charges brought against former president Moshe Katsav for sexual assault. "We opened the case, we went in with our eyes open to something that we knew was not simple. The Katsav case made an important contribution to the fight against sexual harassment, sex crimes and the abuse of authority. It also made a clear statement: No one is above the law, not even the president of Israel."
In the interview, Mazuz criticizes for the first time the conduct of the state prosecution under Edna Arbel. He notes that in "certain cases, criminal law had been stretched beyond its rightful place," giving the example of former chief of staff Rafael Eitan.
Mazuz says Eitan was put on trial for using information "that infringed on the protection of privacy. I thought it was absolutely not germane to file an indictment in a case of that kind. I also thought it was wrong to file an indictment in the case of [current justice minister] Yaakov Neeman ."