How will new justice minister impact charges against PM? - analysis

Ohana has mostly kept his head down and remained a loyal Likud-bloc-style voter, whatever the issue was, when it has come to legislation impacting gay rights.

June 7, 2019 07:54
2 minute read.
Amir Ohana

Amir Ohana. (photo credit: TWITTER)

The contrary messages surrounding Wednesday’s appointment of Amir Ohana as the new acting justice minister could not have been more stark.
To some, his appointment is historic, marking the first time a gay politician has been elevated to a senior ministerial post.
To others, his appointment is another assault on the legal establishment by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an attempt to escape prosecution for public corruption.
Probably neither message has much to it.
Ohana has mostly kept his head down and remained a loyal Likud-bloc voter, whatever the issue was, when it came to legislation impacting gay rights.
So while his appointment in and of itself is undoubtedly significant, and he did show up at Thursday’s gay Pride parade in Jerusalem, it does not signal a major change in how the country treats the LGBT movement.
But Ohana is also likely not much of a threat to the legal establishment.
It is true that his statements about issues tied to Netanyahu’s public corruption controversy have been one-sidedly pro the prime minister.
He has fought for getting Netanyahu immunity from prosecution while in office, even as that bill has likely fallen by the wayside when undermined by other Likud members like Gidon Saar.
Ohana has also supported the circumvention bill that would allow the Knesset to veto Supreme Court rulings, including if the Supreme Court tried to intervene to allow Netanyahu to be prosecuted.
It appears likely that Ohana’s loyalty on these issues was a major motivation for Netanyahu to appoint him.
But what motivated Netanyahu in this case likely will not have much of an impact.
Ohana can act as an observer on the prime minister’s behalf, to provide him information about what the state prosecution is planning. But as an acting minister rather than a permanent one, his powers are limited. He cannot carry out any revolutions as did his predecessor, Ayelet Shaked.
Also, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin may still have dibs on the post as a permanent position once a new government is formed following the September 17 election.
He was offered it first and turned it down, because he only wanted the post once it actually has power.
Furthermore, the impact of Netanyahu’s inability to form a government will almost certainly make it impossible for him to pass either a new immunity law or a new circumvention law before Mandelblit issues a final indictment against him.
This is based on the assumption that with elections this fall, there will not be a new government before November, and then it will likely take weeks or even months to pass new laws on a fast-track basis.
Mandelblit may decide by December, when State Attorney Shai Nitzan steps down, or he can decide before a new law is passed, without looking like he rushed into the decision, as 10 months will have passed from his initial announcement.
Regardless, Ohana will not likely have a major impact at this point on getting the pro-Netanyahu laws passed before Mandelblit decides, even if he is allowed to stay on permanently as justice minister.
It seems that the real message from Ohana’s appointment is that a backbencher Likud MK got to leapfrog many others who were higher on the party list due to his loyalty to Netanyahu.
All of this means that the impact of Ohana’s appointment is likely more political than legal.

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