Ohana: ‘Inner’ State Attorney’s Office conspires against elected officials

A-G and state attorney reject allegations. ‘No one will deter us from faithfully carrying out our work’

Justice Minister Amir Ohana, 2019. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Justice Minister Amir Ohana, 2019.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
In an unprecedented attack on an office in his own ministry, Justice Minister Amir Ohana lambasted the State Attorney’s Office on Tuesday, accusing it of conspiring against public officials for political purposes.
Speaking at a press conference at the ministry, Ohana alleged that there was a cabal of officials in an “Inner State Attorney’s Office” that has successfully ended the careers of public officials of whom it disapproved.
Ohana’s comments come a day after it was disclosed that State Attorney Shai Nitzan and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit had approved an investigation into the harassment of Shlomo Filber, a key state witness who has testified against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Case 4000, involving allegations of corruption concerning the communication conglomerate Bezeq.
Mandelblit and Nitzan hit back at Ohana’s comments, saying they “reject the effort to cast unfounded aspersions on the work of officials from the police force and the State Attorney’s Office.”
Ohana’s fierce broadside Tuesday was aimed at the handling of the three criminal cases against Netanyahu. The justice minister, a close ally of the prime minister, denounced the way the State Attorney’s Office, which is under the Justice Ministry’s authority, has conducted itself during the investigations.
“There is a State Attorney’s Office inside the State Attorney’s Office, which conducts a give-and-take relationship with journalists – there are those who would describe it as a relationship of bribery – and leaks to them investigative materials,” alleged Ohana during his press conference.
Details of the criminal investigations against Netanyahu have repeatedly been leaked to the press, something which the prime minister has frequently denounced.
“The State Attorney’s Office inside the State Attorney’s Office, a small cult supported by reporters in the field, have terminated many careers of public officials,” Ohana continued. “The inner State Attorney’s Office establishes its timetable in accordance with the political timetable, the elections and coalition negotiations, and leaks investigative material, therefore turning itself into a player on the political stage.”
The justice minister further claimed that the State Attorney’s Office and the attorney-general had already made up their mind to indict Netanyahu before his recent pre-indictment hearings, referencing the fact that a central official handling the cases was on vacation during the hearings.
Mandelblit and Nitzan condemned Ohana’s comments following his press conference, describing them as “without basis in fact” and rejecting his claims that the law enforcement agencies were in any way interfering in political matters.
“The independence of a general prosecutor is a foundational principle for any proper democratic regime,” they said in a joint statement. “The law enforcement agencies have acted, do act, and will continue to act fearlessly, professionally, and for the sake of the rule of law and the public interest. No one will deter us from faithfully carrying out our work. No one will divert us from the straight path.”
Ohana also faced severe criticism from the Blue and White Party, with former defense minister under Netanyahu MK Moshe Ya’alon declaring on Twitter that “Netanyahu’s emissaries harassed and exerted pressure on a state witness, and his ministers defend this criminal activity!”
Continued Ya’alon, “How much further will we sink because of Netanyahu’s problems? He talks about unity, and continues with his divisiveness and incitement.”