Israel’s deputy attorney general facing dismissal, ignored AG’s request to steer clear of politics

Attorney General Mandelblit asked Deputy Attorney General Zilber to stay away from politics while appearing at a Knesset committee. She ignored him. 

By Jack Gold, World Israel News

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit met with Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber before her controversial appearance at the Knesset’s Education Committee debate on the Culture Loyalty Bill and warned her against making provocative statements, IDF Radio reported Sunday.

According to the report, Mandelblit asked Zilber to refrain from adding personal comments while defending the government’s bill at the committee, but she did so anyhow and made harsh remarks against government policy instead of representing it at the committee.

Zilber faces possible dismissal after she sparked controversy Tuesday when she spoke at the Knesset’s Education Committee against the Cultural Loyalty Law promoted by Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev. The proposed law would allow the government to withhold funding from cultural institutions or events that harm or defame Israel.

Zilber claimed that the bill wounded “social discourse. If someone can be loyal, then someone else is a traitor? A fifth column? … Show us a disciplined and educated people whose thought is uniform. Loyalty in culture is an oxymoron like a deafening silence,” Zilber said.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked responded Wednesday by stating said that “the attorney general or someone on his behalf can come and present an opposing legal position, but not political positions.”

Shaked underscored that policy must be determined by elected officials and not state employees, “otherwise it would be impossible to run the state.”

Shaked is demanding that Zilber resign or be dismissed. In the meantime, Zilber will not represent the government at Knesset deliberations until Mandelblit finishes his inquiry into the possibility that Zilber broke the law.

Speaking on Saturday in an interview on Channel 13, Shaked again said that she thinks that “the institution of the Attorney General must be clean and professional. Once it becomes political, it cuts off the branch on which it is sitting.”

Saying that “a public official cannot go to the Knesset and speak out against the government,” she said she “will not allow the institution of the Attorney General to become political, bringing politics into this institution will destroy it.”

Shaked stressed the necessity for trust between the ministers and their legal advisers. “The moment an attorney comes out publicly against the government, he cannot work and represent it,” she said.