No State Prosecutor Until Justice Ministry Gets a Permanent Director, Civil Service Chief Says

Civil Service Commissioner informs Justice Minister Nissenkorn citing conflict of interest bureaucracy as rationale for keeping the key position in limbo

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz in the Knesset, Jerusalem, October 16, 2018.
Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz in the Knesset, Jerusalem, October 16, 2018.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

Israel's civil service commissioner, Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz, told Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn that a search committee for a state prosecutor cannot be formed at this time.

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The country has been without a state prosecutor since Shai Nitzan's term ended in December 2019. Since then, Dan Eldad took over as acting prosecutor, but his tenure was not renewed in May, leaving the position unfilled, and its duties transferred to the office of the attorney general.

Hershkovitz argued that the fact the Justice Ministry's current acting director general would not be able to participate in this committee due to a conflict of interest. She would be selecting someone who would be in charge of her in the future.

Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn at a cabinet meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, May 24, 2020. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The cabinet is delaying the approval of attorney Shimon Baron as the permanent director general, Hershkovitz noted, even though a committee approved his appointment.

“The difficulty lies in the government’s decision that only a director general can serve on the search committee, not an acting one or a representative,” wrote Hershkowitz. He added that there was a further unprecedented complication: The concurrent presence of an acting director general and a chosen permanent one still waiting for final approval.

The coalition agreement between Kahol Lavan and Likud states that no senior appointments would be made in the public sector, including a state prosecutor, as long as the state of emergency declared by the government still applies.

Office holders with temporary appointments would continue serving in their posts. At the end of the state of emergency, the agreement says that a committee would be established to set the rules for making senior appointments, with each bloc having equal weight.

On Friday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz instructed Nissenkorn to start the appointment process for the next state prosecutor, even though the committee setting the rules for senior appointments has not been convened.

Kahol Lavan lacks the authority to make the appointment alone, although it said that there was no problem with establishing a search committee. A Kahol Lavan source said the party would not agree to setting up the rules committee, since they believe Likud would use this committee to politicize the appointments of senior officials.

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