Israel's Justice Minister Names New Acting State Prosecutor, Defying Attorney General

Sources close to AG Avichai Mendelblit say there could be a legal impediment to the appointment, because it wasn’t coordinated with him

Justice Minister Amir Ohana.
Tomer Appelbaum

Justice Minister Amir Ohana said Sunday he plans to appoint Dan Eldad, head of the economics department in the state prosecution, acting state prosecutor.

Sources close to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit said there could be a legal impediment to the appointment, because it wasn’t coordinated with him. The sources said Mendelblit doesn’t think Eldad is suited for the position.

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Civil Service Commissioner Daniel Hershkowitz, who was informed of Ohana’s choice, said Eldad met the requirements of the position.

Ohana had been deliberating between Eldad and the head of the prosecution’s fiscal department, Kamil Atila. Mendelblit opposed both candidates. Atila was dropped as a candidate, mainly because he said he wouldn’t take the position without Mendelblit’s support. Eldad made no such request.

Head of the economics department in the state prosecution Dan Eldad, appointed as acting state prosecutor.

Since Ohana’s previous candidate, Orly Ben-Ari Ginsberg, withdrew her candidacy in December, he and Mendelblit have been meeting weekly to discuss a temporary replacement for State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, who retired in December. Mendelblit gave Ohana seven approved names, all of whom the justice minister vetoed.

In his announcement, Ohana said he had interviewed several candidates, consulted with Hershkowitz and, “beyond what is required by law,” also with Mendelblit, before concluding that Eldad was the best choice.

Ohana quoted several recommendations for Eldad, including from Supreme Court Justice Menachem Mazuz, who in 2013 described Eldad as having “a lot of legal knowledge and rich experience in a variety of areas of criminal, civil and public law. He showed mature and careful judgment, moderation and sensitivity, as well as an independent and critical approach, [and] wasn’t deterred from expressing independent positions.”

Eldad has worked in the state prosecution for 27 years, as head of the economics department since 2013. He clerked under former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak when Barak was the court’s deputy president, worked in the Jerusalem district attorney’s office and was an assistant to Justice Elyakim Rubinstein.

Last year Mendelblit said he believed the job should go to Deputy State Prosecutor Shlomo Lemberger. He also said that to ensure the independence of the acting state prosecutor, Ohana would have to consult with him before making the appointment, and that his opinion would be “of great weight and significance” and could not be ignored unless there was “a substantial reason of special importance.”