Attorney General Drafts Opinion on Netanyahu's Conflicts of Interest in Justice System

Mendelblit says Netanyahu has a conflict of interest in appointments to justice system, law enforcement and certain decisions concerning media, given his ongoing corruption trial

Netael Bandel
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Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.
Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.Credit: Emil Salman
Netael Bandel

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a draft version of his legal opinion on preventing conflicts of interest for the prime minister on Friday morning.

Mendelblit said the draft applies to Netanyahu’s conflicts of interest concerning appointments in the police and the law enforcement system, given his ongoing corruption trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Mendelblit's opinion also applies to Netanyahu's involvement in the activities of the attorney general, the State Prosecutor's Office and the internal investigation's brance of the police, as well as other bodies in the Justice Ministry involved in ethics oversight and preventing corruption.

The document states that Netanyahu has a conflict of interest in all matters relating to appointing members of the Judicial Appointments Committee, decisions involving witnesses and defendants on trial, ethics legislation or legislation concerning the legal system. Likewise, the conflict of interest applies to decisions concerning the media that have implications for the legal system. 

Mendelblit’s statement was made in response to a petition submitted to the High Court of Justice by the Movement for Quality Government. 

The movement said in response that Mendelblit should have informed the Knesset of the conflict of interest agreement before he approved the swearing in of the new government led by Netanyahu. 

“We oppose the request for an extension and request that the main points of the draft be released to the public immediately,” the organization said in a statement. 

Mendelblit also asked the High Court to submit a further response on the matter within 45 days, or to set a date for a hearing on the petition. Netanyahu’s lawyers and the lawyers for the Movement for Quality Government were asked to respond to Mendelblit’s opinion by Sunday.

Netanyahu's corruption trial started on May 24 after being delayed over the spread of the coronavirus.

The prime minister arrived at the Jerusalem District Court for the opening session flanked by cabinet ministers from his Likud party and lashed out at law-enforcement agencies and media claiming they are biased against him.

The next session in the case is due to take place on July 19, but Netanyahu's presence is not required.

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