Israel’s justice minister, attorney general flex muscles in battle over authority

Ohana and Mandelbit enter round two in their fight to decide who chooses the next State Attorney.

By World Israel News Staff

Israel’s Justice Minister Amir Ohana and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit are going head-to-head over who picks the interim State Attorney. Their struggle is part of a larger fight between the legislative and judicial branches.

In the first round of the fight, Ohana picked Orly Ginsberg Ben-Ari over Mandelblit’s single suggestion of Shlomo Lamberger. After the Supreme Court froze Ben-Ari’s appointment, despite their being no obvious legal grounds to do so, Ben-Ari withdrew.

Now entering their second round, Ohana announced he will look outside the prosecutor’s office for a candidate. Ohana informed Mandelblit of his decision in a letter on Monday.

“The appointment of anyone in a senior position in the attorney’s office (and not only there) is within the realm of reasonableness, and therefore I will invite additional candidates that answer this criteria,” Ohana wrote.

Ohana’s decision came after Mandelblit expanded his list of possible candidates.

One of the new candidates put forward, Liat Ben-Ari, has been characterized as a “finger in the eye,” by officials familiar with the matter, reports Israel Hayom.

Liat Ben-Ari was one of the lead prosecutors who put together the corruption cases against Netanyahu. She runs the taxation and economic crimes division of the state prosecution’s Tel Aviv district.

Netanyahu attacked her sharply in his initial response to the news that he would face charges in three cases.

Ohana and Mandelblit are set to meet on Monday to discuss the candidates.

Israel Hayom reports that officials in the justice department say, “The minister [Ohana] can’t win this fight. No prosecutor, definitely not a senior one, will agree to go against the streams from which he came.”

“In the end, if the Attorney General decides that he doesn’t want a certain person as an acting State Attorney and will put the full weight of his office, no prosecutor, who also needs to work opposite him, will agree to go against the attorney general and to be used as a tool by the minister,” they said.