(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit is capable of swinging with the best of them, but he prefers to be understated and to be the government’s lawyer if he can. If there are some who want an attorney-general who will go out of his way to teach the government lessons of morality, Mandelblit is not their man.
He believes he is subordinate to the government’s rule – at least up until the point that the prime minister or the government blatantly is ready to violate its own laws. Unfortunately, for Mandelblit, who wanted to lower the attorney-general’s profile and act as he did as the IDF’s top lawyer, trying to find ways to justify the policies that top brass wanted, the prime minister and the government have thrown him numerous hot potatoes that he cannot ignore.
The biggest being his criminal investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
and his refusal to defend the Settlements Regulations Law against a High Court of Justice petition which seeks to strike the law down.
Due to these two issues, he has been labeled as a traitor alternately by the Left (for not already indicting Netanyahu several months ago) and Right (for continuing to probe and for fighting the settlements law).
There is even a side fight being fought in the courts about whether and for how long protesters can demonstrate near his house, with a pending High Court decision on the issue.
It is far from clear what he will decide regarding Netanyahu, but it is clear that the prime minister’s fate – and therefore, the direction of the country – are in his hands. This is probably not what Mandelblit, Netanyahu’s former cabinet secretary, had in mind when he took the job.
Likewise, his fateful decision to oppose the settlements law
means that the High Court will almost certainly strike it down, with it already honoring his request to freeze the law. This despite the fact that Mandelblit has tried to advance the cause of the settlements numerous times within certain limits.
A powerful force this past year, he may be the country’s key player in the year to come.