Nine Attorneys Apply for Israel's State Prosecutor Position

Fearing the government may soon disband, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit hopes to pick a candidate within weeks

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, who since May, also serves as acting state prosecutor in, Herzliya, September 2020.
Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, who since May, also serves as acting state prosecutor in, Herzliya, September 2020. Credit: Meged Gozani
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

Nine attorneys applied for the position of state prosecutor – a role filled by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit since early May – ahead of a deadline that lapsed at midnight on Sunday.

The applicants are: Deputy State Prosecutor for Criminal Matters Shlomo Lemberger; Haifa District Prosecutor Amit Eisman; Tel Aviv District Court Judges Michal Agmon-Gonen and Yaron Levy; deputy director of the Justice Ministry department that investigates complaints of police misconduct, Moshe Saa’ada; and attorneys Eyal Besserglick, Tali Gottlieb, Ofer Bartal and Yael Tothany.

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Following the lapse of the deadline and the finalization of the list, a search committee headed by Mendelblit will choose a candidate and submit the decision to the cabinet for its approval. Mendelblit, fearing that the coalition could break up before the appointment process is completed, told committee members that he plans to expedite the screening process and reach a decision within a few weeks. In addition to Mendelblit, the search committee includes Acting Director General of the Justice Ministry Sigal Yakobi, Civil Service Commissioner Daniel Hershkowitz; Prof. Oren Gazal-Ayal of the Faculty of Law at the University of Haifa, representing academia; and attorney Rachel Toren, representing the country’s lawyers.

Kahol Lavan is behind the move to proceed with finding the next state prosecutor, but it is unclear how the appointment can be approved without Likud's consent. The parties’ coalition agreement specifies that new civil service appointments, including the state prosecutor, shall not be made during the coronavirus national state of emergency and that the tenures of current office holders are to be extended instead.

The coalition agreement also stipulates that a committee tasked with determining guidelines for new senior civil service appointments is to be formed after the state of emergency is lifted. Such committee is to be comprised of both blocs of the coalition, with each having an equal say in the committee.

In October, a senior figure in Kahol Lavan told Haaretz that his party will not accept the establishment of the panel, even if that means violating the coalition agreement. “Likud’s attempt to politicize the manner in which senior officials are appointed in Israel ends today,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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