Three Female Ministers Abstain in Protest as Cabinet Approves Prosecutor

Lawmakers Tamar Zanberg, Merav Michaeli and Pnina Tamano-Shata abstained in protest over abusive remarks new state prosecutor Amit Aisman had made towards women who were subordinate to him

Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov
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Amit Aisman, eight years ago
Amit Aisman, eight years agoCredit: Olivier Fitoussi
Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov

The cabinet on Sunday approved the appointment of Amit Aisman as state prosecutor, with 23 ministers voting in favor and three – Tamar Zanberg, Merav Michaeli and Pnina Tamano-Shata – abstaining in protest over abusive remarks he had made towards women who were subordinate to him.

Aisman takes over a key job that had been left without a permanent officeholder for a year and a half. He had been serving as acting prosecutor since last January.

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Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar said Aisman’s appointment would end a long period of uncertainty and provide critical leadership. “I am impressed by Aisman’s plans, which include important changes in the prosecutor’s work. I am confident that with his abilities and skills he will succeed at the post,” Sa’ar said.

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, last weekCredit: אילן אסייג

Aisman’s appointment had not been confirmed for six months, even though a search committee had already recommended him last November. Last month, the High Court of Justice had told the previous government of Benjamin Netanyahu to explain within 30 days why it hadn’t confirmed his appointment.

Aisman was previously the state prosecutor for the Haifa district, and before that he was the state prosecutor for special matters. Aisman, 53, is considered a brilliant legal expert who pays no heed to public criticism. He was involved in making decisions in the Netanyahu corruption cases and guided the decision to charge him with breach of trust in Case 2000, while Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes, who negotiated favors with Netanyahu, was charged with bribery.

The cabinet meeting on Sunday during which Amit Aisman's appointment as state prosecutor was approvedCredit: Maya Alleruzzo / AP

Aisman’s comments have gotten him into trouble in the past. The first instance was in 2008, when he was serving as a department head. While discussing a sex offense case with a female prosecutor, he asked a female intern whether she had a leopard print thong. When she said no, he turned to the prosecutor and said, “See? That’s a normal young woman, she doesn’t have such things in her closet.” The implication was that the complainant in the case was not normal.

He made a second statement that got him into trouble while serving as district prosecutor. A female prosecutor recounted that she wanted his advice on a case that a defense attorney was pushing to bring to a plea bargain. She said Aisman responded, “You’re not a man, you don’t have balls, right? Because when you’re a man and they squish your balls it hurts but you also enjoy it, and that’s what the [female] defense attorney is doing to us.”

Aisman apologized for his statements in an opinion piece published in Haaretz.

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