Does recently resurfaced political scandal threaten Israel’s attorney general?

Reemergence of details of the closed legal case involving top politicians appears to be revenge against the current attorney general, says a former senior prosecutor.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

News reports of supposedly new evidence connected to a decade-old political scandal appear to be nothing more than a revenge attack on Israel’s attorney general, a former senior prosecutor said Monday.

On Friday Channel 13 news anchor Ayala Hasson claimed to have new information that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit may have helped former IDF commander Gabi Ashkenazi cover up his role in the 2010 Harpaz affair.

The bizarre case involved a battle between then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Ashkenazi over who would be the next head of the IDF.

The Channel 13 report received wide coverage in media outlets affiliated with the pro-Netanyahu camp but little coverage in other mainstream Israeli media.

“It’s just to get rid of Mandelblit and be able to appoint their own choice for attorney general,” said a former senior prosecutor familiar with the case who spoke with World Israel News on conditional of anonymity. “They want to get rid of Avichai Mandelblit and will do it an any cost.”

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At the time of the affair Mandelblit was a brigadier general, serving as the military advocate-general and was known for his keen legal expertise. He was not suspected of any wrongdoing in the case. Netanyahu hired Mandelblit in 2013 to be cabinet secretary and then backed him for the post of attorney general in 2016.

Since his appointment, Mandelblit has been under fire from both the Right and the Left. He decided to press corruption charges in 2019 against Netanyahu, but ruled that the prime minister was not required to resign before facing trial.

The Harpaz incident involved a senior reserve officer in the IDF and a friend of Ashkenazi, Lt. Col. Boaz Harpaz, who was found guilty last year of faking a document in a battle of wills between Barak and Ashkenazi. Harpaz was given a short sentence of community service and the case appeared to be closed, until Hasson’s report last week.

“I’m very happy that things are being published about the Harpaz affair, but I think some people got a little drunk here. We have witnessed things more harsh than that,” Kan Radio political affairs reporter Nadav Eyal tweeted.

Mandelblit has had a fractious relationship with Justice Minister Amir Ohana, who has not hidden his dislike for the attorney general nor his desire to hand-pick senior public positions in the prosecutor’s office.

Yediot Aharonot reporter Raz Shechnik noted that the people still harping on the Harpaz affair were forgetting that Netanyahu was the one who appointed Mandelblit to the top legal position in the country and is set to appoint Ashkenazi to be foreign minister.

“You are drowning in hypocrisy,” Shechnik tweeted.