In Shadow of Netanyahu Probes, AG Tells Public Security Chief to Consult Him on Next Top Cop

Avichai Mendelblit warns Gilad Erdan of 'conflict of interest aspects relating to members of the government who are under police investigation' and 'to instruct accordingly'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, December 27, 2015.
Marc Israel Sellem

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has asked Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to consult with him before he starts dealing with the appointment of the next police commissioner, hinting that there could be difficulties posed by conflicts of interest involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other ministers suspected of crimes.

In a letter to Erdan, Mendelblit wrote: “I am asking that before beginning to deal with the issue, you contact the undersigned so that I can examine the conflict of interest aspects relating to members of the government who are under police investigation and to instruct accordingly.”

Because of the letter, Erdan has apparently not yet begun to deal with the new appointment.

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich is expected to finish his term in December after three years. So far, Erdan has made sure to say, both in media interviews and in private conversations, that he is not yet dealing with the subject. Nevertheless, names of potential candidates are being bandied about, most prominently that of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy.

By law the authority to appoint the police commissioner rests with the cabinet, based on the recommendation of the public security minister. During the last appointment period in 2015, Netanyahu wanted to appoint Israel Electric Corp. chairman Yiftah Ron-Tal to the post but Erdan objected. The minister's nomination, Brig. Gen. (res.) Gal Hirsch, failed because of a police investigation launched against Hirsch.

Mendelblit’s letter comes after a number of Members of Knesset and public bodies called on him to block Netanyahu from dealing with the possible extension of Alsheich’s term because of the police investigation against the prime minister.

Netanyahu is being investigated by police in four separate cases on suspicions of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The police have recommended he be charged in Case 1000, involving lavish gifts and Case 2000 involving an alleged deal with Yediot Ahronot.