Israel's Justice Minister Condemns 'Aggressive Actions' by Attorney General Over Key Appointment

Ohana says Mendelblit's actions jeopardize the potential nomination of his candidate for state prosecutor, deepening row between the two as post remains unfilled

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Amir Ohana speaks at a public event in Jerusalem, June 23, 2019.
Amir Ohana speaks at a public event in Jerusalem, June 23, 2019.Credit: Oren Ben Hakon

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit’s actions over the appointment of an acting state prosecutor “have not improved the chances” of nominating the candidate he backs for the post, Justice Minister Amir Ohana said on Sunday, days after the minister's pick reneged citing politicization of the process.

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In a radio interview with the Kan public broadcaster, Ohana said he has not ruled out appointing deputy state prosecutor for criminal affairs Shlomo Lemberger. But Mendelblit’s “improper aggressive actions and the attorney general’s legal opinion, which in my view are unreasonable in the extreme, have not helped [Lemberger’s] chances. They have not rejected but they have not helped either," said Ohana.

When the interviewer said the decisive consideration should be the qualifications of the candidate and not the attorney general’s actions, Ohana said: “The person who decides who is the most appropriate for the position is your humble servant.”

Ohana’s candidate for the post, Central District deputy prosecutor Orly Ben-Ari Ginsberg, announced on Friday that she had decided not to accept the appointment – after the High Court of justice suspended her appointment last week, following Mendelblit's opposition of her appointment.

Ohana is expected to make a new appointment for the post in the next few days. Out of the five initial candidates on Ohana’s shortlist, only two remain in the running: Lemberger and Dan Eldad, the head of the economic department at the State Prosecutor’s Office. The other two candidates, in addition to Ben-Ari Ginsberg, announced earlier they were not interested in the position.

But Ohana may appoint another senior legal official, who was not on the original list of five, to the Civil Service Commission to be acting state prosecutor.

Mendelblit is also expected to propose additional candidates to Ohana out of the 30 most senior management of the State Prosecutor’s Office, which include the deputy state prosecutors, district prosecutors and department heads. Last week Mendelblit proposed two more candidates to Ohana, in addition to Lemberger: The deputy state prosecutor for civil affairs Orit Kotev, and the Southern District state prosecutor for civil affairs Zion Ilouz – but Ohana rejected both new candidates.