After marathon interviews with candidates to succeed Moshe Lador as the next state prosecutor, a panel chaired by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein selected overnight Monday Shai Nitzan for the job.
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Nitzan, who currently serves as Weinstein's deputy, was chosen over Yehoshua Lemberger, Lador's former deputy for criminal affairs. Lador is due to quit next month.
The search committee, which recommends one candidate to Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, consists of Weinstein, Justice Ministry Director-General Guy Rothkopf, Civil Service Commissioner Moshe Dayan, attorney Rachel Toren, representing the Israel Bar Association and academia representative, Prof. Ariel Bendor.
Apart from Nitzan and Lemberger, the committee on Monday interviewed Jerusalem District Court Judge Tzvi Segal and Tel Aviv District Court Judge Avi Zamir. Each interview lasted between an hour and ninety minutes. A decision by the committee must be supported by five of its six members. The state prosecutor's term is fixed a six years.
Choosing the new state prosecutor allows Weinstein to stamp his mark on the post-Lador era. Since appointed in 2010, Weinstein had to handle Lador's dominance and lack of cooperation. The appointment could be seen as an opportunity for Weinstein to promote his agendas with a different, more cooperative, state prosecutor.
Nitzan, 54, made his name in the High Court of Justice department and also served as Lador's deputy. He is known for putting right-wing activists on trial and his connections in the security establishment.
Right-wing activists tried on Sunday to thwart Nitzan’s appointment after members of the search committee dismissed their objections. The group Hamateh Lema’an Eretz Israel said an investigation had been launched against Nitzan for providing an affidavit to help obtain a residency permit for a left-wing activist related to his cousin. But the police said no such investigation had been launched.
In recent days district prosecutors considered sending a delegation to the committee in support of Lamberger. but eventually decided it would be improper and unfair to Nitzan, who is also their colleague. Another group of attorneys, dealing with criminal affairs and were supported by Lador, considered supporting Lamberger, but feared their move might harm their candidate.