Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara was interfering in the government's prerogative to lead Israel's security agencies, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at the start of the cabinet's weekly meeting on Sunday.
"In every proper democracy that wishes to live, the elected government is the body responsible for the army, the police and the rest of the security bodies," the prime minister said.
"This is not only anchored in law; it is anchored in common sense. No one else may decide who will command these bodies, who will lead them, and how they will be led," he added.
While the prime minister did not mention the attorney general directly, his remarks were widely understood as being directed at Baharav-Miara, who decided to freeze National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Israel Police Commissioner Yaakov (Koby) Shabtai's decision to remove Tel Aviv police chief Ami Eshed from his position, until the legality of his removal was verified.
The national security minister wrote in a letter to the attorney general earlier on Sunday that her decision to freeze the removal proved that she could not be trusted in representing him in court proceedings.
"Unfortunately, this is not the first time you made decisions in matters regarding me and my office without [first] speaking to me. This is what you did in the Police Law (you published your opposition to the law proposal without speaking to us first), and that is how you acted on many other 'Otzma Yehudit' laws, and on issues connected to decision-making in the national security ministry," Ben-Gvir wrote.
"Under these circumstances, I do not trust you to represent me loyally in the different appeals," he added, and therefore from a standpoint of "the law, integrity, and justice," the minister wished to represent himself or employ private representation in any appeals on the matter.
Thus, "I will not need to receive representation from an attorney general whose positions are opposed to mine, categorically, always, and always without speaking to me," he wrote.
Eshed and Ben-Gvir go head-to-head
Eshed's transfer from Tel Aviv police chief to the head of the police's training branch was first announced on Thursday evening. The move was initially intended for after the month-long Ramadan holiday, which ends on April 20. However, following pressure from Ben-Gvir, Shabtai agreed to publish the announcement on Thursday evening. Ben-Gvir was unhappy with Eshed's "containment" of protesters blocking the Ayalon Highway.
In a statement delivered to the press on Saturday evening, Shabtai admitted that the decision to move up the announcement was a mistake. The police commissioner reiterated his commitment to free demonstrations and to the rule of law and stated that he would abide by the attorney general's decision to freeze the transfer in order to determine whether it was done legally.
Ben-Gvir in a number of television and radio interviews on Saturday evening and Sunday morning attacked Baharav-Miara, accusing her of overstepping her authority and of violating protocol by not speaking to him first about the decision. He even said on Sunday that "the time was nearing" for a decision on whether or not to fire her, according to Ynet.
The national security minister was not the only one to attack Baharav-Miara on Sunday, as Likud MK Ofir Katz accused her of attempting to be the "country's sheriff," during a Knesset session on what is known as the "Incapacity Law" proposal.
"I do not remember there being a ballot in the election of a party led by Gali Baharav-Miara," Katz said. "She thinks she is the country's sheriff, she determines everything here, and we will not let her," Katz said.
The proposal blocks the attorney-general from declaring a prime minister incapable of fulfilling his role. The law is being prepared for its first reading in a special committee led by Katz. It was initiated after the High Court last month did not reject out of hand an appeal to force the attorney-general to declare Netanyahu "incapacitated," due to his alleged violation of a conflict of interest agreement. Netanyahu is standing trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, and he is legally prohibited from intervening in issues that could affect his trial, including the judicial reforms.