Strengthen Israel's Civil Service Ethics Panel

The government and attorney general's behavior in the botched choice of a new police chief proves just how badly the committee is needed

Moshe Edri and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan in 2015
Marc Israel Sellem

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan once again proved his haplessness and negligence in choosing nominees for police commissioner by selecting his ministry’s director general, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Edri, despite the numerous skeletons in his closet.

Erdan then added insult to injury when he stuck by his nominee even though the Goldberg Committee – whose job is to vet the ethics of candidates for top civil service posts – rejected Edri.

Following reports that the attorney general was considering telling the cabinet it isn’t bound by the Goldberg Committee’s decision, additional details about Edri’s behavior emerged this week. Among other things, he had a preliminary conversation with the woman who ultimately administered his polygraph test, and also worked to help a relative who served as a policeman in a unit he commanded.

>> Say no to Edri for police chief | Editorial

This new information led Edri to withdraw from the race for the commissioner’s job, but the ramifications of this wretched affair shouldn’t end there. The behavior of both the government, which refused to adopt the Goldberg Committee’s position, and the attorney general, who appears to be trying to undermine the committee’s authority, proves just how badly the committee is needed.

The fact that Erdan, along with ministers Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett, rushed to reject the views of a committee that the government itself established, and whose continued operation it ratified just half a year ago, proves that the Goldberg Committee serves as the last barrier to the complete politicization of appointments to senior positions in the defense establishment and the civil service. It is therefore necessary not only to preserve it, but even to strengthen it by making its decisions officially binding on the government.

Additionally, the information since discovered about Edri must lead to his dismissal from his post as director general of the Public Security Ministry. Someone who has failed, time after time, to comply with basic ethical norms cannot continue serving in a job financed by a government ministry.

In the past, the High Court of Justice overruled Yossi Ginossar’s appointment as director general of the Housing Ministry due to his “criminal past.” Edri, based on the discoveries of the past few days, appears to have something approaching a “criminal present.” This requires steps to be taken to remove him from his current job.