Chief State Attorney Appointee Withdraws; Justice Minister ‘Surprised, Disappointed’

Israel

Photo Credit: Tomer Neuberg / Flash 90

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit (L) and Justice Minister Amir Ohana, September 03, 2019.

Chief State Attorney nominee Orly Ben Ari called Justice Minister Amir Ohana after the close of the Sabbath on Saturday night to inform him of her decision to withdraw her application and resign her new appointment to head the State Attorney’s Office.

A great deal of pressure was brought against the new appointee from the office of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who disapproved of the appointment. Mandelblit contended that Ohana had overstepped his authority as a caretaker Justice Minister in making the appointment.

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Ben Ari, a Tel Aviv deputy prosecutor, wrote Friday that she reneged on her agreement to serve as head of the prosecution. “The atmosphere that has been created threatens to hurt public trust in the prosecution and erode it even further,” she wrote. “I won’t have the justice system hurt further on my account, so long as I’m able to prevent it.”

On Wednesday, the High Court of Justice had already frozen the appointment, preparing the hear a petition accusing Ohana of using the appointment to obstruct the indictment and prosecution of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges.

Ohana spoke with media shortly after the call, expressing his disappointment in an interview with Channels 12 and 13 and saying, “It was clear that she was subject to tremendous pressure; I was disappointed and surprised by her decision.

“I have a lot of appreciation for her. I chose the person best suited to strengthen the public’s confidence in the prosecutor’s office, and she had the qualities of humility and modesty that I think the office of the prosecutor needs.

“I was not happy about Ben Ari’s decision,” he added. “It surprised me a little. The resistance from Judea and Samaria was expected, as was the petition by the Movement for Quality Government. It was clear that there would be tremendous pressure on Ben Ari to withdraw and waive the appointment, but I was disappointed when it happened.”

Ohana also said that he likes and respects Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on a “personal level,” and he also said, “I think it is mutual. However, too many elected officials have bowed their heads to various legal advisers and I think the balance has been disrupted and should be restored with the help of democracy and government.”

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