Shai Nitzan
Shai Nitzan at a retirement party for former Supreme Court president Dorit Beinisch in Jerusalem. Photo by Michal Fattal
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Deputy state prosecutor Shai Nitzan is likely to become the head of Israel Police's investigations and intelligence division, an unusual external appointment intended to bolster police relations with the judiciary. Nitzan is likely to succeed Major General Yoav Segalovich, who is due to step down at the end of the year. Segalovich has twice deferred his resignation at the behest of his friend Commissioner Yohanan Danino.

Danino and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich have been considering Nitzan for the position - the most senior in the police force, after the commissioner - after no other top police officer was deemed fit for the job. With no one from among the police ranks, Danino and Aharonovich have been looking to recruit an official from the legal system, due to the intense working relations the investigations and intelligence division maintains with the courts. Other less likely candidates are the head of the Justice Ministry's department for the investigation of police officers Uri Carmel and Southern District Attorney Shlomo Lamberger. A formal decision will be made in three months, after Segalovich's career prospects become clearer.

Segalovich, who will conclude a four-year term in December, is considered to have bolstered his department's good working relations with the Supreme Court, the attorney general and the State Prosecution, which Danino and Aharonovich are keen to maintain. The police's investigations and intelligence division is in effect the long arm of the judiciary, and indeed, all past heads - among them Segalovich, Danino and Moshe Mizrahi - were trained jurists. The division head's responsibilities include coordinating police investigations and instructing police prosecutors in different districts.

An external appointment also has its downsides, like Nitzan's lack of police experience and understanding of the system, including the interface between investigative and regional divisions. In this sense, if Nitzan gets the job, he will be under Danino's tutelage, at least in the first few months.

Nitzan, who served with Danino in the IDF's 890 Paratroopers battalion in the late 1970s, will step down as deputy state prosecutor later this year. In that position he became familiar with the work of Israel's law-enforcement agencies, such as the police, the IDF and Shin Bet security service. Previously a candidate for military advocate general, state prosecutor and Jerusalem district attorney, Nitzan is expected to take the job once he gets a formal offer.

Other external appointments to the police brass include Yaakov Kedmi as the head of the now defunct investigations division, who later became a Supreme Court judge, and former Shin Bet official Uzi Berger.