Arbel Era Ends at Prosecutor's Office

Justice Minister Yosef Lapid praised Edna Arbel yesterday at a ceremony marking the end of her tenure as State Prosecutor. "You led the executive arm of the Justice Ministry with talent, determination, integrity and courage, Lapid said. "The Supreme Court is the state's most important legal institution, and this is the reward you deserve. I promised - and I kept this promise."

This morning at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, Arbel will be sworn in as a new member of the Supreme Court together with Esther Hayut, Salim Jubran and former attorney general Elyakim Rubinstein.

At the farewell ceremony, attended by all top Justice Ministry officials, Lapid and others lashed out against those who had tried to block Arbel's appointment to the Court.

"The stormy fight over your nomination was also a fight of principle on the question of the legal system's independence in the face of intervention by political figures and attempts by certain people to settle accounts with you," Lapid said. "In the end, common sense prevailed and justice was done not only for you, but also for the legal order in Israel."

Arbel served as State Prosecutor for eight and a half years, during which time the prosecutor's staff grew by 50 percent, from about 700 to 1,040 attorneys. In the eight years prior to her latest job, Arbel was a Tel Aviv District Court judge.

"The State Prosecutor's Office was directed by a strong hand and in a way that brought respect to the office and the State of Israel," said Aharon Abramowitz, the Justice Ministry's director-general.

"Arbel was seen, and rightly so, as someone who represents the rule of law, the fight against crime, and the defense of rights and values," Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said, noting her "rare courage" and "leadership."

Arbel arrived at the ceremony after visiting national police headquarters in Jerusalem, where she took leave of outgoing Police Commissioner Shlomo Aharonishki and top police brass.

"The role of State Prosecutor was the most difficult, interesting and perhaps the most important of my life," Arbel told colleagues at the ministry. She noted that she had been criticized for pursuing indictments of public officials that often did not result in convictions. "The State Prosecutor's Office is not a contractor for convictions... Before submitting an indictment, the public interest is considered and an assessment is made on whether there is a reasonable chance for conviction. The court is the one to decide whether the person is guilty or innocent - not the State Prosecutor, police or media."

Arbel's deputy, Nava Ben-Or, will serve as her temporary replacement until a permanent appointment is made.