The Attorney-General will permit National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir private representation before the High Court of Justice for a petition against an impending Police Law amendment, the Movement for Quality Government in Israel said on Monday.
"The attorney-general will not represent the minister in the petition submitted by the Movement against the transfer of authorities from the police commissioner to the minister," said MQG.
The hearing is set for June 7, and Ben-Gvir must submit his responses to the petition by June 2. Ben-Gvir may represent himself, as he is a trained lawyer and has defended himself before the High Court before.
Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara in March had denied Ben-Gvir the ability to use private representation. Normally, the Attorney-General's Office represents members of the government before the High Court, though in rare circumstances the Attorney-General will allow alternative legal counsel.
On March 13 Ben-Gvir had appealed to the High Court to allow private representation.
Earlier that month Ben-Gvir had sent a letter to Baharav-Miara stating that he does not trust to properly represent him and his interest before the High Court, given how they have butt heads on a number of legal issues.
Background to the hearing
The June 7 hearing will address petitions from multiple NGOs on an amendment to the December Police Law that further subordinated the Israel Police to the National Security Ministry.
"The Movement for Quality Government in Israel claims that the proposed law will seriously damage the independence of the police and the commissioner; the ability to manage the police prosecution system properly; the rights of the individual; and the principles of the rule of law," the NGO said on Monday.
Petitioners have argued that there is no proper balancing clause that prioritizes the submission of Police leadership to the law rather than political masters.
Ben-Gvir and Baharav-Miarav's legal disagreements have largely centered around the national security minister's control of the police.
The Attorney-General's Office published an opinion against the Police Law, which Ben-Gvir contends was done without speaking to his ministry first.
During the height of the judicial reform protests in the first week of March, Ben-Gvir, according to Baharav-Miarav, crossed red lines in his ministerial powers by giving direct operational orders to police forces.
As national security minister, Ben-Gvir is allowed to set general policy and principles, but not interfere in ongoing field operations, the Attorney-General opined. This position was affirmed by the High Court on March 19. The court issued an interim order barring Ben-Gvir from issuing field directives.
Ben-Gvir announced that he would seek outside representation after he and the Attorney-General clashed on the minister's March 9 decision to remove Tel Aviv Police Chief Ami Eshed from his position. Ben-Gvir allegedly made the move after disagreeing with Eshed's approach to handling judicial reform protests.
While Ben-Gvir has argued that the appointments were a matter of routine, the Attorney-General froze the decision and will be settled when Eshed issues his defense. The High Court agreed with Baharav-Miarav that appointments shouldn't be used as a political punishment, but done in cooperation with the police commissioner.
In advocating for his right for private representation, Ben-Gvir has referred to the need for judicial reform. Though there is yet to be legislation on the matter, Justice Minister Yariv Levin has called for reform of the Attorney-General and legal advisers to the government. This would include a requirement for legal advisors to champion the government's positions, as well as increased right to private legal representation.