Israel's State Comptroller Rejects Justice Minister's Request to Investigate Attorney General

No new elements justify investigation in cases Justice Minister Amir Ohana says undermine the public trust in Israel's state prosecution, watchdog argues

Netael Bandel
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From left to right: Englman, Mendelblit, Ohana at an event in Lod, central Israel, March 9, 2019.
From left to right: Englman, Mendelblit, Ohana at an event in Lod, central Israel, March 9, 2019.Credit: Ilan Assayag
Netael Bandel

Israel's state comptroller announced on Monday he would not follow up on a request by Justice Minister and Netanyahu faithful Amir Ohana to open an inquiry into Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and the state prosecution. The comptroller added that he would pass on Ohana's claims to the relevant division of the State Comptroller's Office.

Ohana met with State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman on Sunday to ask him to begin a comprehensive investigation into the conduct of the state prosecutor's office and of Mandelblit, in light of what he defined as the undermining of the public trust in them.

Ohana argued the attorney general should be investigated for, among other things, his role in the Harpaz affair, a decade-old  scandal involving the choice of Israel's military chief. Another issue was leaks to the media that Ohana said came from the Justice Ministry.

Avichai Mendelblit has previously blasted Ohana's interest in these cases as a campaign against him, in which he posited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself might be involved. Mendelblit has played a role in the corruption indictments against Benjamin Netanyahu, whose trial is due to start this month.

Haaretz reported on Sunday that Englman was not inclined to address most of the topics Ohana raised at the meeting. The official, who has previously faced criticism for being biased in favor of Benjamin Netanyahu, does not believe there is any need to reopen the Harpaz case, because his predecessors looked into it and a thorough report was published, sources said.

Regarding Ohana’s complaints against the prosecution, Englman believes the issue of public confidence is too broad a topic and not within his purview.

The comptroller’s office now has staff dedicated to auditing the prosecution; these officials last week issued a report on the prosecution’s asset-seizure policy and are working on other reports. Englman believes this is a sufficient response to the minister’s request to monitor the prosecution.

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