AG May Weigh in on Associate's Job Candidacy, Legal Adviser Rules

The legal opinion was issued following a Haaretz report on the matter published earlier this week

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit in Tel Aviv, last month.
Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit in Tel Aviv, last month.Credit: Hadas Parush
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

The attorney general may take part in search committee discussions concerning the promotion of a close associate of his to a top Justice Ministry position, the ministry's legal adviser said Wednesday, ruling out the possibility of a conflict of interest in the matter.

The legal adviser, Lea Rakover, issued her legal opinion after Haaretz reported this week that AG Avichai Mendelblit hadn't asked her for permission to discuss his personal assistant Gil Limon’s candidacy for the position of deputy attorney general of public administrative law.

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According to the conflict of interest agreement Mendelblit signed, he must consult the Justice Ministry’s legal adviser in any case of potential conflict of interest. The position Limon applied to includes overseeing issues pertaining to conflict of interest.

According to Rakover, Mendelblit told her in a search committee meeting that he considered the possibility of a conflict of interest regarding Limon but ruled it out, and told Rakov that his relationship with Limon is strictly professional.

The attorney general, whose term ends this year, declared in a conflict of interest agreement he had signed upon his appointment, that “in a matter directly related to another person with whom I have a personal connection, which is likely to arouse suspicion of a conflict of interest, I will consult with the legal adviser to the Justice Ministry, Lea Rakover, and act in coordination with her.”

Even though Mendelblit presented the question of a possible conflict of interest to the members of the committee, Rakover said he only approached her on the question after the report was published by Haaretz, and following a request from the Movement for Quality Government on the matter, over a “serious fear of the existence of conflicts of interest in the decision-making process.”

Nevertheless, Rakover wrote in her opinion that there was no justification whatsoever to change the makeup of the search committee. She stated that so long as "the acquaintance is in a professional framework" that more "significant indications as to the strength of the relationship" would be necessary to establish a conflict of interest than currently exists.