Comptroller Fumes as AG Okays Danino as Candidate for Top Cop

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein tells Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch that there is no legal obstacle to appointing Maj. Gen. Yohanan Danino to the post of Police Commissioner.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein told Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch on Thursday that there is no legal obstacle to appointing Maj. Gen. Yohanan Danino to the post of Police Commissioner.

Danino, the current Southern District police commander, is the leading candidate for the post, along with Maj. Gen. Shahar Ayalon, commander of the Tel Aviv District Police.

Aharonovitch and Danino (Ilan Assayag)
Ilan Assayag

Weinstein consulted with State Prosecutor Moshe Lador before advising Aharonovitch. Nonetheless, sources at the State Comptroller's Office expressed dissatisfaction with Weinstein's announcement and confusion by the speed with which it was made.

The state comptroller sources said that over the past few months they have been investigating two complaints filed against Danino, and that they are in the midst of work that is being expedited.

Aharonovitch does not intend to wait for the state comptroller's decision on the matter of Danino. Sources at the Public Security Ministry said that the minute the attorney general cleared Danino, there was nothing stopping the announcement of the new commissioner.

The two retired officers who had filed complaints against Danino with State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, Israel Abarbanel and Simon Perry, also expressed their bewilderment on Thursday with Weinstein's decision.

"It is strange that even though the investigation is still not completed, they have already closed their eyes," Abarbanel said. "The comptroller proposed that I confront Danino and Commissioner David Cohen so that we can get to the truth, and meanwhile they are already approving his appointment."

Abarbanel had filed a complaint against Danino for alleged negligence that resulted in the murders of two police informants in 2006. Perry had complained about Danino's conduct in handling the extradition of the Aberjil brothers, members of one of Israel's major crime families.

A statement from the Justice Ministry said that Weinstein had given his opinion to Aharonovitch after examining the complaints against Danino during a number of meetings with the senior staff in his office.

"This examination was done on the basis of materials that document how the state attorney's office handled cases involving complaints against Danino ... and they concluded clearly that there was no fault in Danino's conduct in the aforementioned cases," the statement said.

Meanwhile, Weinstein's green light to Aharonovitch is likely to expedite the selection process and the decision on the next police chief may be announced as early as Sunday. Prior to the announcement, Aharonovitch is expected to meet with the candidates and the senior police staff to personally announce the decision.

The selection of the new commissioner will result in the retirement of at least 10 police major generals.

Weinstein's decision has significantly weakened Ayalon's chances of gaining the top spot in the police, but it is likely that the minister had already made his decision prior to the attorney general's announcement.