High Court vetoes government-Ohana commission to probe police

Mandelblit warns opening probe into prosecution’s treatment of police would become politicized days before election

Justice Minister Amir Ohana (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Justice Minister Amir Ohana
The High Court of Justice on Monday night vetoed Acting Justice Minister Amir Ohana’s proposal to establish a state commission to probe and potentially take away the prosecution’s handling of complaints against the police.
The cabinet supported Ohana on the issue, ignoring Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit’s objections.
Ohana said his idea was related to the prosecution’s unduly lenient treatment of a policeman who fatally shot Ethiopian Solomon Tekah in June 2019 (he was indicted for negligent homicide). Mandelblit rejected the idea as illegal.
Pursuing it now would politicize the issue as an electoral one, he said.
Mandelblit did not reject the idea from being raised by the new government following the March 2 election. However, he said since the current government is merely transitional and operating during an election season, it lacks the authority to carry out such a complex and impactful change.
Besides saying the change would be clouded by electoral considerations, Mandelblit said it was inappropriate for the current transitional government to hamstring the government that will be formed after March 2.
In addition, Mandelblit said Ohana’s proposed commission chairman, former judge Haran Feinstein, had issued multiple public posts that said he had no confidence in the neutrality of the prosecution.
According to Mandelblit, this blatant anti-prosecution attitude disqualified Feinstein from eligibility to run the commission, and Ohana’s desire to appoint someone with such an obvious public bias, exposes the political considerations underlying his proposal.
Finally, Mandelblit said in the coming month, a commission he appointed to address the issue of potential bias by the police against Ethiopians would release its recommendations for reforms. In light of this, the issue can wait until a new government is formed, he said.
The High Court endorsed Mandelblit’s position and criticized the cabinet for ignoring him.
Ohana slammed the High Court, saying if the public wants a country run by its representatives, it should vote for Likud, but if it is satisfied with a country run by lawyers, it should vote for other parties.