Ohana ignores A-G's veto of pick for State Attorney

If Ohana does not back down, various NGOs are expected to file a petition to the High Court of Justice to block Ohana and resolve the constitutional crisis.

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit (photo credit: LIAV PELED)
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit
(photo credit: LIAV PELED)
Acting Justice Minister Amir Ohana decided on Tuesday night to ignore Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit’s veto of his choice to replace State Attorney Shai Nitzan hours earlier.
If Ohana does not back down, various NGOs are expected to file a petition to the High Court of Justice to block Ohana and resolve the constitutional crisis.
With Mandelblit opposing the appointment, the High Court may reject Ohana’s decision to appoint Deputy Central District Attorney Orli Ben-Ari to become the country’s chief prosecutor.
In a dizzying day, Ohana announced the appointment Tuesday morning, Mandelblit publicly vetoed the appointment Tuesday afternoon, and Ohana had announced by Tuesday night that he would ignore the veto and had scheduled an inauguration ceremony for Wednesday morning.
Questioned by The Jerusalem Post about whether Mandelblit would try to block the ceremony, his spokesman said that he would attend the ceremony and not actively try to block it.
However, a spokesman for the Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel all but confirmed that they would be shortly petitioning the High Court to intervene.
Earlier Tuesday, Mandelblit explained his opposition by essentially categorizing Ben-Ari as a well-respected veteran, but who is still only a second-to-third level official who would not normally be considered for the top spot.
He said that normally the top spot is filled by one of a few deputy state attorneys or one of the six district attorneys.
The attorney-general noted Ben-Ari had competed to become a district attorney three times, and failed to be selected each time.
There is speculation that Ohana picked her specifically due to this rejection, believing that she is angry with the top state prosecution echelon and would be more open to his entreaties on various issues.
In the meantime, Mandelblit said that Ohana should endorse his pick of Deputy State Attorney Shlomo Lemberger, viewed as Nitzan’s top deputy and the current number two prosecutor nation-wide.
In addition, the Representative for Public Service Appointments Daniel Hershkovitz has also told Ohana he cannot support a replacement for Nitzan unless Mandelblit is on-board.
Since Sunday when Nitzan’s term officially ended, there has been uncertainty about his replacement.
In a standard situation where the Knesset is in session and there is a permanent government, the attorney-general and Ohana would usually agree on a candidate picked by a highly structured legal committee designed to prevent politicization of the process.
Yet, since the government is only transitional, there cannot be a selection committee and a permanent replacement, only a temporary one.
On December 2, Ohana tried to take action regarding the situation, saying he would soon appoint one of five candidates he listed as the acting state attorney.
Notably absent was Deputy State Attorney Liat Ben-Ari, who it is believe is being blackballed by politicians because of her involvement in the prosecution of Netanyahu.
Already then, Mandelblit told Ohana that because the government was transitional and because Ohana himself is only an acting justice minister, Ohana’s right to decide on a different candidate from Lemberger was limited.
Following that initial public conflict between the sides, two of Ohana’s candidates removed themselves from consideration.
Besides Lemberger, the other two potential candidates were Orli Ben Ari-Ginzburg and Economic Crimes Division director Dan Eldad.
On December 5, both Mandelblit and Ohana again staked out negotiating positions over who would determine the acting replacement for Nitzan.
One possible consequence of the delay in appointing a replacement for Nitzan is that final decisions about Shas party leader Aryeh Deri’s case, United Torah Judaism party leader Ya’akov Litzman’s case, Case 3000 (the Submarine Affair) and other major cases could be delayed.