Probes may prohibit Netanyahu from aiding in new police chief appointment

Mandelblit expressed a need to "evaluate the conflict of interest issues connected to members of the government who are currently under police investigation, and to give directives accordingly."

May 22, 2018 19:44
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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Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit wrote a letter on Tuesday hinting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may need to stay out of the process for appointing the next police commissioner, to avoid a possible conflict of interest in light of the criminal probes pending against him.

In a letter to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Mandelblit made two main points.

On one hand, he said that to date he had rejected requests to block Netanyahu and other ministers under investigation from involvement in the appointment process, saying that these requests were premature when no process had started.

On the other hand, he said that once Erdan got to the point of starting the process, he should first consult with Mandelblit so that the attorney-general could “evaluate the conflict of interest issues connected to members of the government who are currently under police investigation, and to issue directives accordingly.”

Incumbent Israel Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich is not expected to have his three-year term, which ends in December, extended, in light of his rocky relationship of late with Netanyahu and Erdan.

Usually, Erdan would recommend a replacement candidate to the cabinet, which typically approves the recommendation.

However, with such senior level appointments, especially with the cabinet voting, the prime minister is usually highly involved and influential in determining who the public security minister recommends.

Mandelblit appeared to hint to Erdan that since Netanyahu is under investigation in Cases 1000, the Illegal Gifts Affair; 2000, the Yediot Aharonot-Israel Hayom Affair; and 4000, the Bezeq-Walla Affair, his involvement in selecting the top police official who could affect those investigations could be a conflict of interest.

Last week, Channel 2 reported that senior police officials had accused Jerusalem Police head Asst.-Ch. Yoram Halevy of holding secret talks with Netanyahu, with an eye to affecting the outcome of the investigations of the prime minister and helping to promote Halevy as the next commissioner of the Israel Police. Both the Prime Minister’s Office and the Israeli Police spokesman denied the report.

Tamara Zieve contributed to this report.

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