High Court rules AG can keep meeting one-on-one with PM despite probes

Multiple parties had petitioned the High Court to order Mandelblit to refrain from one-on-one meetings to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

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July 22, 2018 18:58
1 minute read.
PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU consults with Avichai Mandelblit.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU consults with Avichai Mandelblit.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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The High Court of Justice ruled on Sunday that Attorney- General Avichai Mandelblit can continue to meet privately with Benjamin Netanyahu despite the public corruption probes he is overseeing regarding the prime minister.

Multiple parties had petitioned the High Court to order Mandelblit to refrain from oneon- one meetings to avoid the appearance of impropriety and to avoid any possibility of Netanyahu influencing the attorney- general’s decisions regarding his fate.

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Mandelblit rejected these petitions as interfering with his fundamental role in which he functions as the both state’s top prosecutor and its chief legal adviser.

The petitioning parties suggested Mandelblit could fulfill these roles, but that he should have others present at all meetings and document summaries of them in order to avoid any conflict of interest or pressure.

Ultimately, the court upheld Mandelblit’s discretion on the issue.

The court noted that Mandelblit meets with Netanyahu for a variety of reasons. The meetings often include advisers, but sometimes they are for sensitive policy issues and involve only the two of them.

Justices Isaac Amit, Yosef Elron and Yael Wilner endorsed Mandelblit’s view that he should have discretion regarding the issue and that as the country’s top law enforcement official, he needs to be trusted.

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Further, the court noted that in its previous decisions it rejected any idea that Mandelblit has a special personal conflict of interest in dealing with cases related to the Netanyahu family as a result of having been Netanyahu’s cabinet secretary.

The court implied that these personal issues were part of the real reason for the petitions, which made it easier to reject them, since the personal-history argument had been previously rejected by a five-justice panel.

A spokesman for Mandelblit noted that the attorney-general makes his meeting calendar – including meetings with the prime minister – public every three months, and that summaries of the meetings are kept for office records.

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