The police must have the public’s trust in order to fulfill its critical roles of crime prevention and law enforcement. For this reason the person in charge must have uncontested credibility, and devotion to the values of upholding the rule of law and equality before the law.
The committee that vets senior civil service appointments has decided against supporting Moshe Chico Edri for the job of national police chief, maintaining that naming him to the position “would harm public trust in the police.”
The main reason why the Goldberg Committee disqualified Edri was a meeting he had with Pini Fischler, attorney for corruption whistleblower Rafi Rotem, three days before Rotem was to appear before the committee. Someone who acts either directly or indirectly to influence someone complaining against him – who is about to appear before a committee tasked with deciding upon his suitability for a job – shows himself to be unfit for that senior position from the standpoints of honesty and discretion.
The same goes for someone who cancels speeding tickets for a senior official without showing due cause or any justification. Someone who permits himself to behave so recklessly and shamelessly toward police officers who violate the law; someone who discriminates against a senior officer and treats him differently than other subordinates or citizens, violates the principle of equality and cannot set an example to his subordinates or win the citizens’ trust.
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The fact that Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan ascribes to committee head Judge Eliezer Goldberg an extreme lack of reasonableness indicates a problem regarding his own judgment and raises doubts about how suited he is to appoint a police chief. Habayit Hayehudi ministers, Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett, who have defended Edri’s appointment, have seized the opportunity to express their opposition to the existence of public committees of experts, as a part of their general campaign to do away with the nation’s gatekeepers – from attorneys general to the Supreme Court.
The current government, whose record in corruption has been most problematic, cannot allow itself to appoint a police chief without the legitimization of the public committee. Cabinet ministers must not be influenced by Erdan’s fury and the attorney general should stand up for the rule of law and not try to please the government. He should make it clear to the ministers that they must treat the committee’s recommendations as decisive and are entitled to deviate from them only in instances where there are serious overriding reasons to do so – which do not exist in this case.
If Edri is appointed police chief despite the Goldberg Committee’s recommendations, it would be a blatant illustration of a lack of judgment on the part of Israeli cabinet ministers, and underline the need to anchor the procedure for making such appointments in detailed and transparent legislation.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.