Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Monday told Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara she has his full backing following threats from some Likud MKs to have her fired.
The latest threats on Sunday night related to the possibility that Baharav-Miara was entertaining the possibility of approving Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s request to appoint a new IDF chief of staff during election season on the basis of national security considerations.
Likud MKs Yoav Kisch and Shlomo Karhi both attacked Baharav-Miara for not rejecting Gantz’s request outright.
Kisch said the attorney-general would be fired by a new government led by Benjamin Netanyahu if she dared to approve Gantz’s request, which he said would show she was taking a clear political side.
Karhi said the Likud would fire her no matter what she decided because it would seek to replace all appointees of the current government, which it views as illegitimate since it was not led by Netanyahu, whose party won a plurality of the most Knesset seats.
Lapid said he was “sure that the legal establishment would continue to act professionally, objectively and put the interests of the state first, as it has done until now,” and that he would “protect the legal system from those who want to harm it.”
Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar on Sunday said Kisch’s threat was “gangsterism.”
Yamina MK Simcha Rothman said any government has the right to fire an unelected official. He did not address concerns that the firing might be done to help save Netanyahu from his corruption trial.
Netanyahu himself remained silent, though some of his associates disassociated him from Kisch’s statement.
Kisch then said he had not heard Netanyahu himself criticize him, leaving the picture unclear.
On Monday, Kisch did not completely back off. However, he withdrew somewhat and said he was not threatening to fire Baharav-Miara in any formal sense as much as expressing how problematic he thought it would be for her to approve Gantz’s request.
Appoint a chief of staff with Israeli elections on the way?
Defense Ministry legal adviser Itai Ofir on Sunday sent Baharav-Miara his legal opinion, stating that Gantz could appoint a new IDF chief of staff even with elections on the horizon.
Ofir’s opinion gave a classified survey of the security challenges confronting the country, which he said would be exacerbated if selecting a new chief is delayed.
Various national security figures have also written in support of making the selection on the basis that the upcoming election might not lead to a new government before the January 1 end of current IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi’s term. They have argued that an appointment would allow a normal transition period between the chiefs or that a new chief is needed soon to pick a new deputy chief to take over various day-to-day operations.
In late June, Baharav-Miara said she would need more details from the Defense Ministry’s legal adviser before deciding the issue.
On the one hand, appointments during election season were discouraged, she said. On the other hand, appointments were not banned across the board, and there could be exceptions that met a standard of the state having a necessity.
The three lead candidates for IDF chief of staff are current Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Hersti Halevi, former deputy chief of staff Maj.-Gen. Eyal Zamir and former OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoel Strick.
Halevi is reportedly the lead candidate, but some on the Right prefer Zamir, who was helped to move up the chain of command by Netanyahu when he was still prime minister and who worked as Netanyahu’s personal military secretary.