Raising Some Eyebrows: Herzog and Mendelblit Sit Together at Bar Association Meet

Mendelblit will have to decide whether to launch an investigation into suspicions of campaign finance irregularities by the leader of the Labor Party and of the Zionist Union.

Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog speaking at his party's convention in Tel Aviv, February 7. 2016.
Moti Milrod

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit were seen having breakfast together at the Israel Bar Association's convention in Eilat on Monday.

Herzog is being probed for suspicions that he violated campaign funding laws during the Labor Party's 2013 primary election. As attorney general, Mendelblit will decide if police should open an official investigation and which would be followed by questioning Herzog under caution, meaning that he would be warned that criminal charges could be filed in connection with the case.

Seated with Herzog and Mendelblit at the Eilat meeting were State Comptroller Joseph Shapira, Justice Ministry Director General Emmy Palmor and Israel Bar Association President Efraim Nave.

In response to the disclosure of his contact with Attorney General Mendelblit, Herzog, who has denied any wrongdoing, said he and Mendelblit were placed at the same table in the dining room as VIP participants at the conference: "From that, reports flew that I was sitting with the attorney general at the same table, so I would say that we had a fascinating discussion about the salad and the omelet."

Regarding the inquiry over possible wrongdoing on his part, Herzog said: "Anyone who has worked with me knows that I am meticulous about transparency, fairness and public integrity. After all, for my entire life it has been argued that I don't let anything budge, don't cut corners, that I am not a party to deals, and precisely because of this, I have been called a nerd."

Such allegations surface "again and again, always just before elections or when failing coalitions are threatening a breakup, Herzog said.

A Justice Ministry Spokesman said: "The head of the bar association invited senior officials who were attending the conference to join him for breakfast. This was not a personal meeting between the attorney general and the Opposition Leader."

Last week Herzog said that he will fully cooperate with investigators and rejected claims of possible wrongdoing, saying the timing of their publication was political: "We all know why this is happening and whoever is behind this will receive such a political blowback that they will a learn a lesson for years to come."