Netanyahu tries to fire his office's legal advisor, Mandelblit says no

Barnea-Fargo has been the legal adviser to the Prime Minister's Office since 2001, during the tenure of Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, and since Netanyahu returned as prime minister in 2009.

In an election video released by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Netanyahu is depicted as throwing blades at the Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit (photo credit: Courtesy)
In an election video released by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Netanyahu is depicted as throwing blades at the Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to fire his office’s legal adviser, Shlomit Barnea-Fargo, who is considered an important witness in the cases against him, his wife and his associates, Haaretz reported over the weekend. The Jerusalem Post independently confirmed the report.
Netanyahu requested permission from Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to fire Barnea-Fargo, but Mandelblit vetoed the request.
Though Barnea-Fargo is an employee of the Prime Minister’s Office, her ultimate duty is to preserve the law because she is a government lawyer and falls under Mandelblit’s authority in the chain of command.
Firing Barnea-Fargo could be construed as a violation of conflict of interest principles, and even an attempt to obstruct justice, since she is testifying against the prime minister, his wife, Sara, and his associates.
A spokesman for Netanyahu said that his faith in Barnea-Fargos’ abilities had deteriorated. It is possible that legal or political considerations prevented him from providing further specific details.
Barnea-Fargo has been the legal adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office since 2001, during the tenure of Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, and throughout Netanyahu’s tenure since becoming prime minister for the second time in 2009.
Barnea-Fargo testified to the police against Netanyahu in Case 4000, the Bezeq-Walla! Affair, against his associates David Shimron and Yitzhak Molcho in Case 3000, the Submarines Affair, and against Sara Netanyahu in the Prime Minister’s Residence Affair.
The news may undermine Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s efforts to enact a bill giving politicians greater control over the appointment of government legal advisers.
Opponents of the bill have warned that if Shaked’s bill passes, officials like Barnea-Fargo may put more emphasis on their loyalties to the particular minister who appointed them than to the rule of law.
In contrast, when Barnea-Fargo testified to police, her ultimate allegiance was owed to Mandelblit and the rule of law, and not to political considerations.
Shaked’s office has not yet responded to an inquiry as to whether her position has changed on her proposed bill.