The High Court of Justice issued a temporary injunction on Thursday barring the extension of acting state prosecutor Dan Eldad’s term of office, or replacing him once his term expires on Friday.
The ruling would temporarily leave the prosecutor’s job in the hands of Attorney Generl Avichai Mendelblit.
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Thursday would have been Justice Minister Amir Ohana’s last opportunity to extend Eldad term. Ohana appointed him after State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan retired.
The court order was issued in response to a petition challenging an extension of Eldad’s term, which the petition claimed would be unreasonable since Ohana appointed Eldad against the advice of the attorney general and as justice minister in a caretaker government.
Ohana is a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and seen as close to the prime minister. The petition filed on behalf of a number of lawyers cited how Netanyahu will soon face three criminal corruption cases in court in a case that would be conducted by the state prosecutor.
Mendelblit told the civil service commissioner a week ago he saw legal obstacles in the way of seeking to extend Eldad’s term. Mendelblit has had a shaky relationship with Eldad, and has accused him of unprofessional behavior, concealing information from the attorney general and providing inaccurate information to Ohana.
In response, Eldad had argued that Mendelblit had sought his ouster for seeking to examine a matter raised by a reporter criticizing Mendelblit. “The material indicated a purportedly disturbing picture with regard to everything related to the handling of Mendelblit’s matter,” Eldad said. “I recently informed the relevant officials of my intention to intensify the investigation of the matter before responding,” Eldad said. He later said that the issue did not involve any alleged criminal wrongdoing.
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Akiva Novick of Channel 13 News said the issue had to do with Mendelblit’s closure of an investigation into a case known as the Harpaz affair, and what Eldad thought of the basis for which the file was shut. The 2010 case involved an army officer’s forgery and circulation of a false document in an effort to influence the appointment of the next chief of staff. Mendelblit, who was the military advocate general at the time, was questioned in the case, but ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing.
Haaretz has learned from a senior Justice Ministry official that in private conversations, Mendelblit accused Ohana and Eldad of seking to unseat him as attorney general and that he did not exclude the possibility that the prime minister was also involved in this alleged effort.