Netanyahu Tells Court He Objects to Attorney General's Conflict of Interests Proposal

The prime minister claims the law doesn't authorize Avichai Mendelblit to determine if an issue involves a conflict of interest, but rather that it is he who has the power to do so

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
Benjamin Netanyahu attends a briefing on the coronavirus disease development in Israel at his office in Jerusalem, September 13, 2020.
Benjamin Netanyahu attends a briefing on the coronavirus disease development in Israel at his office in Jerusalem, September 13, 2020. Credit: Yoav Dudkevitch/Yedioth Ahronoth/Pool via REUTERS
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu objects to the conflict of interests agreement drafted by the attorney general, he told the High Court of Justice on Thursday, after Avichai Mendelblit ruled that Netanyahu cannot handle matters involving the legal system and law enforcement while he is on trial for corruption.

Netanyahu's objection argued that the attorney general isn’t authorized to determine whether there’s a conflict of interest on certain subjects.

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Justices will now have to determine whether the prime minister's objection nullifies Mendelblit's ruling.

According to the attorney general's statement, Netanyahu – who is on trial on corruption charges in three cases – may not make decisions pertaining to appointments in the law enforcement system and to the judiciary, or deal with the matters of witnesses or other defendants, or with legislation that may have a bearing on the cases against him.

Also, he may not deal with several issues in the Communications Ministry’s jurisdiction. Mendelblit has made it clear that the agreement is final and does not require the prime minister’s consent.

The prime minister’s position, which was submitted to the court by his lawyers, says the law “doesn’t grant the attorney general authority to determine whether some issue or another has a conflict of interest. The person who can determine this is the prime minister, not the attorney general.”

Netanyahu also objected to the ban on his dealing with appointments, appointment procedures or the status of officials in the law enforcement system.

“The prime minister believes there is no place for the said limitations in the clause regarding the involvement in the appointments method,” said his filing. “This is an issue that is an important part of the coalition agreement and the political arguments in the Knesset, and imposing restrictions on the prime minister in this issue will infringe on implementing the voter’s wishes.”

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