On Wednesday evening, a day after the court exonerated former prime minister
Ehud Olmert on two of three corruption charges leveled against him, the
attorney-general and the police inspector-general expressed support for State
Attorney Moshe Lador.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein and
Inspector-General Yohanan Danino spoke out after a day in which senior jurists
and political reformers called for Lador’s resignation.
Danino said Lador
was a “devoted lawyer” who had an impressive career and called for the criticism
of him to stop, saying it would undermine the prosecution and its
Meanwhile, in a letter to state prosecutors, Weinstein described
as dangerous the “unbridled personal attacks against prosecutors who did their
duties professionally, with integrity and fearlessly.”
“Such is State
Attorney Moshe Lador, as are the other lawyers who worked on this case,”
Weinstein wrote, noting that he had previously been one of Olmert’s legal
counsel and would not comment on the court ruling itself.
attacks endanger the public prosecution, without whose principle there will be
no rule of law. This must never happen,” the attorney-general
Weinstein said that even when cases against public figures
resulted in a full or partial acquittal, the prosecution would “not relinquish
our constant struggle that Israel should be a lawful country.”
“There is one law for the common people and for the highest in the
Weinstein concluded that “on this day, as on every day, it is
right that each of us holds his head high, because he belongs to a prosecution
that is good, proper and fair.”
Among those calling for Lador’s
resignation on Wednesday was Israel Democracy Institute president
Dr. Arye Carmon, who said the state attorney’s decision to hold a
preliminary hearing for Olmert in 2009 had ousted a prime minister at a crucial
time in the state’s history.
Olmert was forced to step down as prime
minister over allegations that he had received “cash envelopes” from New York
businessman Moshe Talansky, which he dismissed at the time as
“The decision to investigate a democratically elected prime
minister first impinged his ability to govern and later forced him to resign,
against the will of the people,” Carmon told The Jerusalem Post.
said the two main “gatekeepers of the state” – Lador and State Comptroller Micha
Lindenstrauss – had exceeded their powers, turning themselves into “official
vetoes” of the Israeli democratic process.
He added that Lador had
received a “slap in the face” on Tuesday when the court ruled to acquit Olmert
on the Talansky and Rishon Tours charges.
While the State Attorney’s
Office employed hundreds of dedicated, hardworking lawyers, Carmon said there
was a problem with its leadership, adding that while the office “needed a
shake-up,” Lador was “too narrow-minded” to resign.
does not understand the basics of democracy,” Carmon said. “It’s true that the
rule of law is one of the major pillars of democracy. But for Lador, it
is the only pillar and he holds onto it exclusively. As a result democracy
The State Attorney’s Office needs a leader who can “see the
bigger picture and bring some balance,” he added.
Carmon said he did not
support calls for an independent committee to be established that would
investigate the prosecution’s actions, saying that such an investigation was not
Also on Wednesday, former justice minister Amnon Rubinstein
joined calls for Lador to resign in the wake of the court’s almost total
exoneration of Olmert.
Rubinstein also told Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet
channel that the prosecution must now undertake substantial reforms, including
appointing an ombudsman to deal with complaints against the State Attorney’s
Office, with serious cases being investigated by a judge.
The outcome of
the trial against the former prime minister has also sent shock waves through
the legal community.
Israel Bar Association head attorney Doron Barzilay
called on the attorney-general, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman and Lador to
establish an independent committee to examine the prosecution’s conduct
“As the head of the Bar Association, I am greatly
concerned at the calls by the public and by the media against the State
Attorney’s Office,” Barzilay said in a letter sent on Wednesday to Weinstein,
Lador and Neeman.
The Bar Association leader called for an independent
committee to examine the circumstances surrounding Olmert’s being brought to
trial, including the prosecution’s conduct and decision-making throughout that
Barzilay also noted that the allegations against Olmert
had led to a prime minister being removed from office without an election – and
that Olmert had now been cleared of those allegations – but did not call for
Lador to step down from his post. Instead, he said that an external audit
could restore public confidence in the prosecution.
“We cannot ignore the
strong feelings of the public, and also the media, who see in this case conduct
unbecoming of our law enforcement agencies,” Barzilay added, saying that the
public outcry in the wake of the court ruling “reflected citizens’ crisis of
confidence in the prosecution and the police.”
Lador announced on Tuesday
evening that he would not step down. The state attorney rejected
arguments that the prosecution failed in the Olmert case. Lador said that
even though the trial ended in acquittal on the main charges, it did not mean
that there should never have been an indictment.
attorney Uri Korb – who last July sparred bitterly with Olmert during the
latter’s cross-examination – also spoke out in defense of the prosecution,
telling Channel 10 news that the state attorney had acted correctly in indicting
Amid the heated criticisms of Lador and the prosecution, however,
there were also calls to the contrary. On Wednesday morning, MK Nitzan Horowitz
(Meretz) called for the “wild assaults” on the prosecution to stop.
is a lynch in the town square by interested parties who want a weak State
Attorney’s Office, one that is submissive and obsequious to the powerful and the
wealthy,” Horowitz said.
He added: “Terrorizing the State Attorney’s
Office poses a real threat to the rule of law in Israel.”