Two events that are important to Israel's image as a country governed by civil laws will take place in the next two days. Tomorrow, Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi is due to announce his candidate for police commissioner. The following day, the Judicial Selection Committee will vote, among other things, on the appointment of State Prosecutor Edna Arbel to the Supreme Court.
The umbrella that Arbel has raised over the police in the criminal cases involving senior officers allowed the law enforcement mechanism to stumble, haggard and bedraggled, toward the execution of judgment. Without Arbel, the corruption would have been even more callous and presumptuous.
Justice Dorit Beinisch's announcement that she will be absent from the vote on the appointment of her friend Arbel reflects the assessment that there will be a majority even without Beinisch, but it is also a surrender to pressure. The campaign against Arbel is being waged by two groups - her victims, some of whom were convicted and jailed, and the settler representatives on the committee, Tourism Minister Binyamin Elon and MK Shaul Yahalom (National Religious Party). Elon is also an uncle to Margalit Har-Shefi, who was tried at Arbel's behest, but he did not disqualify himself from participating in the vote, just as Yahalom, a friend of former attorney general Elyakim Rubinstein, will not be abstaining in the vote on his appointment.
If Arbel is appointed, she will vacate the position of state prosecutor, one of the four most influential people in determining how the law is enforced, alongside the police commissioner and the head of the investigations branch, and right below Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, who until now seems to be following Rubinstein's policies. Just last month he decided, despite the entrenched position of the police and the prosecutor's office, not to cancel Rubinstein's scandalous arrangement with wayward police officer Stanislav Yazamski, against whom it was decided not to press charges in the wiretapping case involving Transportation Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Mazuz was also lenient regarding Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin's reports to David Appel from the Judicial Selection Committee.
The next police commissioner does not know that he will be chosen, and his identity is known to one person at most.
Hanegbi will only find out at his meeting with Ariel Sharon tomorrow whether that candidate is acceptable to the prime minister. If so, Hanegbi will set off for four personal meetings - with the chosen one, who will be asked to suggest a round of other senior appointments and to reduce the number of commanders, and the disappointed (from among Jerusalem Commander Mickey Levy, Northern District Commander Yaakov Borovsky, West Bank Commander Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Tel Aviv District Commander Yossi Sedbon).
Sharon's involvement in this process is astonishing. He, his sons and the head of his bureau are under police investigation, with indictments perhaps already being drafted against them. Gilad Sharon even claims the police are bothering him because he is the prime minister's son. At a time like this - although for Sharon, any time is investigation time - it would be fitting for him to abstain from involvement in the appointment of the commissioner.
Critics of Hanegbi, who is also an alumnus of the interrogation room at the investigations branch, were surprised to find him an efficient and focused minister; one can only guess how Lieberman would have behaved in his place. In a confrontation between Rubinstein and Police Commander Moshe Mizrahi, Hanegbi sided with Mizrahi and found him to be a officer who felt as he did. It is likely that if Mizrahi had been a district commander, and were it not unimaginable that Sharon would agree to his appointment, Mizrahi would be Hanegbi's preferred candidate, as he wants to strengthen the Investigations Department and expand it to include the Intelligence Department.
Public and other criticism of wiretapping by the police, mainly by Intelligence and the main units of the districts, are likely to meet with Hanegbi's understanding for the needs of fighting crime. Over the next few stormy years, the prosecution and the police need a leadership that will not be deterred by senior government officials and settlers. In the Likud referendum, Sharon allowed the settlers to practice the system that opposes the evacuation of settlements. Another opportunity for trying out their tools will soon be provided, when the American administration calls in the notes U.S. President George W. Bush gave Sharon in Washington. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield will be arriving in Israel next week to set up the mechanism that will supervise the freezing of construction in the settlements and the removal of the outposts, because Sharon failed in the referendum but still owes the administration.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now