The cabinet on Sunday approved the appointment of Shai Nitzan as deputy
attorney-general for special projects after Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman
assured Likud ministers that Nitzan would not be dealing with settlement-related
Nitzan is considered a red flag by many settlement leaders because
in previous positions he has approved numerous administrative detention orders
against settlers. He was also a key figure in deciding to investigate rabbis Dov
Lior and Ya’acov Yosef for their connections to the book Torat Hamelech, which
says it is permissible in some situations according to Jewish law to kill non-
Jews. Neither Yaakov or Lior were ultimately indicted.
The cabinet also
approved the the appointment of Dina Zilber as deputy
Neeman said she would replace Deputy Attorney-General
Mike Blass and would deal with issues he previously dealt with, including
matters relating to the settlements.
Neeman’s clarification paved the way
for right-leaning ministers, who had previously opposed the measure, to support
Nitzan’s two-year appointment.
Within the Justice Ministry Nitzan is
considered a non-ideological career attorney who is not afraid to ruffle
feathers if he believes that enforcing the law demands particular
Most of Nitzan’s career has had little to do with confrontation
over settlement issues, and he is likely most well-known within the ministry for
being one of the leaders of the government’s response against the 2009 UN
Most within the ministry do not consider him
anti-settler as much as unwaveringly committed to the rule of law.
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the appointments of the Nitzan and Zilber were
worthy ones. He thanked Blass for his work.
Among those swayed to support
Nitzan’s appointment was Transportation Minister Israel Katz (Likud), who
initially expressed concern that, “once again we are giving the impression that
we are making a contentious appointment.”
Recently there have been a
number of disagreements between the High Court of Justice and the government, he
“We want to ensure that the government’s position will be
represented,” he added. But he voted for it after assurances from Neeman on the
But Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz
(Habayit Hayehudi), who announced prior to the meeting that the would reject the
appointment, made good on his word.
He said there was a “deep crisis of
faith” between the settlers and the Attorney-General’s Office, charging that the
office was trying to set settlement policy rather than give legal assistance to
The appointment of Nitzan would not rebuild confidence in
the Attorney-General’s Office, but rather deepen this crisis, he
Government Services Minister Michael Eitan and Culture and Sport
Minister Limor Livnat abstained from the vote.
Livnat said she did not
want to comment on Nitzan, but rather objected to technical issues that related
to his appointment, such as the absence of a tender or a search
But MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) was not convinced that
Nitzan’s role with regard to settlements had been neutralized. “The Likud has
sold the state to the Left wing,” he charged. He warned that at the end of the
day, Nitzan would become the attorney-general and then president of the High
MK Uri Ariel (National Union) said the appointment raises the
question as to whether it is comfortable for Netanyahu to have a prosecutor’s
office that is hostile to the settlements. Nitzan has proved that he has a clear
agenda against the settlements, Ariel said.
MK Arieh Eldad (National
Union) said, “the cat can not guard the cream, even if Bibi [Netanyahu] promises
Right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir said he was considering
filling a petition to the High Court against Nitzan’s appointment.