Israel's Attorney General Has Landed a Knockout Blow – on Himself

Yehuda Weinstein's decision to defer probe into use of state resources at the prime minister's residence until after election marks a black day for law enforcement.

Amir Oren
Amir Oren
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein
Attorney General Yehuda WeinsteinCredit: Ofer Vaknin
Amir Oren
Amir Oren

If there was any lingering, tattered cover concealing the rationale underlying Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein’s decisions concerning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his announcement last Thursday – to open a probe into the use of state resources at the PM’s official and private residences, but only after the March 17 election – removed any remaining shred of doubt. Weinstein no longer requires an opponent in his daily boxing workouts: he’s dealt himself a knockout blow.

Weinstein entangled himself in a series of embarrassing logical contradictions. First of all, why does the AG concern himself with misconduct at the prime minister’s residences? His authority expressly concerns the person serving as prime minister – not his spouse or his residence. Rules applying to the local “President Obama” do not apply to the local “White House” and its administration. If the prime minister acquires an official aircraft, will this also be immune from investigation? How does Weinstein know in advance what witnesses will say? Or what plea bargain will be offered to suspects? And where the investigation that has not even begun will lead?

The investigation of misdeeds in the prime minister’s sphere, rather than ones committed by him, should be handled by lower ranks at the State (or District) Prosecutor’s Office, or by the police. If the prime minister’s wife is “not under the state comptroller’s purview” – the excuse used by State Comptroller Joseph Shapira for evading an investigation of Sara Netanyahu’s alleged misconduct, even though state employees execute her orders – why does the AG involve himself with decisions made about her by the lower echelons? This also applies to the severity of the alleged misdeeds. If they are indeed lightweight, why is the AG involved?

Above all, the AG rushed to exonerate Netanyahu based on the partial evidence currently available, while at the same time explaining his decision to postpone the “main investigation” until after the election. This was based on the concern that such an investigation, which could lead to a formal inquiry, might affect the voting public. Why is this the case? All the subjects of any possible investigation – including Sara Netanyahu, Ezra Saidoff (deputy director general in the Prime Minister’s Office), Meni Naftali (the ex-chief caretaker of the prime minister’s official residence) and Avi Fahima (the electrician who did work for the Netanyahus) – are not part of any list up for election.

Attorneys serving under the AG yet again demonstrated their obedient pliability. This is their custom. When Edna Arbel, then acting-AG, asked a senior team whether then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon should be charged, they answered in the affirmative. When the next AG, Menachem Mazuz, expected the opposite response from another senior team, he too got what he wished for.

With Weinstein, everything is deferred to some distant future, as with the Harpaz and Pinto affairs (the former involving an attempt to influence the choice of IDF chief of staff; the latter concerned with bribery and senior police officers). He mainly strives to protect Netanyahu, in general and particularly on the eve of his trip to the United States. He wants to prevent photos of Sara entering the offices of the police fraud unit. For this purpose, a ridiculous procedure was outlined, allowing police officers to collect documents, obtain search warrants and investigate communications, but not to summon suspects or witnesses before the election. The feeble police force acquiesced, enabling anyone who wishes to do so to obstruct the investigation and harass witnesses.

Concerns about impacting elections did not deter law enforcement agencies from openly investigating Yisrael Beiteinu members or mayors just before municipal elections, or presidential candidates ahead of the Knesset vote for the job. On those occasions, it was argued that it was important to sort out the allegations before anyone was elected. Everything is arbitrary, personal, on a first-name basis.

Meni Naftali’s claims about misdeeds at the prime minister’s residence lingered for aeons at the State Prosecutor’s Office. Even after the police finally gathered his testimony, many more days were wasted, until two or so weeks before the election. Now, with fake innocence, they can ask if this is really the right time to investigate.

The investigators who recently said a week would suffice to clear things up have now fallen silent. The head of the police’s investigation and intelligence division, Maj. Gen. Meni Yitzhaki, was not called to any meeting at Weinstein’s office. “There was a long phone call with him,” Justice Ministry officials said as an excuse.

Thursday was a black day for law enforcement, one of naked politicization of the whole system, including police investigators, the state prosecution and the attorney general himself. The people in charge of carrying out justice have added additional support to the prevailing suspicion regarding their integrity and professionalism. All of this was done only to avoid placing Sara Netanyahu in a delicate situation, facing the police and cameramen.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


בנימין נתניהו השקת ספר

Netanyahu’s Israel Is About to Slam the Door on the Diaspora

עדי שטרן

Head of Israel’s Top Art Academy Leads a Quiet Revolution

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

Skyscrapers in Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv.

Israel May Have Caught the Worst American Disease, New Research Shows

ג'אמיל דקוור

Why the Head of ACLU’s Human Rights Program Has Regrets About Emigrating From Israel


Netanyahu’s Election Win Dealt a Grievous Blow to Judaism