Ohana, Mandelblit in second showdown over filling State Attorney job
Months of negotiations followed in which Ohana submitted multiple candidates to Mandelblit and the attorney-general presented Ohana with seven different candidates.
By YONAH JEREMY BOB
Monday marked day two of a second round of public jousting between Acting Justice Minister Amir Ohana and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, over filling the role of state attorney.There has been no state attorney since Shai Nitzan stepped down in mid-December and after Mandelblit and an NGO succeeded in getting the High Court of Justice to block Ohana’s original choice.Months of negotiations followed in which Ohana submitted multiple candidates to Mandelblit and the attorney-general presented Ohana with seven different candidates.With no agreement in sight and elections only a month away, Ohana sought to make his mark again when he announced Sunday night that he would appoint Jerusalem Economic Crimes Division Director Dan Eldad over Mandelblit’s objection.Mandelblit did not issue an official statement Sunday night or even Monday, but The Jerusalem Post has learned that he is strongly against the appointment and is weighing whether to try to block it.At press time, it was unclear whether Mandelblit or any third parties would try to get the High Court of Justice to intervene to block Ohana’s newest nominee. It was also unclear when Eldad would take up his new role.However, it seems that Ohana has more of the advantage in round two.AdvertisementOhana’s round one candidate, Orly Ben-Ari Ginsburg, was viewed by Mandelblit as being unable to manage the entire country’s prosecution apparatus and as two levels below a line of candidates who would usually be the pool from where the state attorney would come from.But Eldad has a higher rank and has managed one of the prosecution’s larger units, such that even if there are a group of officials with higher rankings he is viewed as being part of the highest tier of prosecutors in a broader sense.Both recognizing those differences and possibly because of personal relationships, the Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel, which got Ohana’s first candidate struck by the High Court, supports Eldad. Elyakim Rubinstein, former deputy chief justice of the High Court and former attorney-general, also gave Eldad public backing on Monday, which was a rare break for him with Mandelblit.If Mandelblit does go to the mat on the appointment, there would be a few potential reasons.First, Ohana is merely an acting minister in a transitional government. Mandelblit does not think he should be making major appointments, let alone dictating to him who Mandelblit’s top lieutenant in managing the prosecution should be.If there was a permanent government, Mandelblit would be heading a selection committee, which would recommend a shortlist of candidates to the justice minister, who normally mostly accepts the attorney-general’s recommendation.Mandelblit does not think Ohana should get more power and push him aside because of the technicality that in the absence of a permanent government there can be no selection committee.Likewise, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s case about to go to trial and major pending decisions regarding top political officials Arye Deri and Ya’acov Litzman, Mandelblit gets no solace from the idea that any Ohana appointee would himself be only temporary.Next, Mandelblit feels that Ohana’s whole approach has been to politicize the process and that one of his goals has been to find a candidate who will be more loyal to him than to Mandelblit.Since the state attorney works directly under Mandelblit, the attorney-general feels that the candidate should come from a list he chooses and not a list chosen by Ohana, no matter how qualified a specific candidate might be.After his first candidate, Ben-Ari Ginsburg, dropped out due to High Court pressure, Ohana accused the state prosecution of being “drunk with power.” Blue and White MK Yael German praised Ben-Ari Ginsberg for giving up the post, saying that “finally, a responsible adult has emerged amid the legal chaos Ohana caused.” Labor-Gesher faction chairman Itzik Shmuli said her decision and her reasoning proved she is an honest and wise prosecutor who cares about the good of the legal system and the state.