Dichter slammed for police chief fiasco

Genot withdraws candidacy for post; officials say reforms will damage police.

Genot 298.88 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Genot 298.88 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Senior police officials lambasted Public Security Minister Avi Dichter on Tuesday morning for his decision to nominate Israel Prisons Service Chief Warden Ya'acov Genot as the next Israel Police inspector-general. On Monday night, in a serious blow to Dichter, Genot asked to withdraw his candidacy for the position. Israel Radio quoted the police officials as saying that "the minister has produced a total failure" and that his attempts to reform the police establishment were "only causing damage." The officials went on to say that it was impossible to carry out reforms without the necessary budget. They noted that not long ago, the police had suffered budget cuts of NIS 12 million and that the police now needed to lay off 450 officers. Meanwhile, Genot's attorney, Ya'acov Weinroth, told Army Radio on Tuesday morning that the media hubbub over the former IPS chief warden's past offenses was what brought him to step down. "There was really a mass attack on the man, with everything focusing on some stain that was on his clothes 13 years ago," Weinroth said. "It's a lot easier to attack a battalion of Syrian tanks that's advancing on you than to stay in a position where you [have to] take the poisoned arrows of those who are shooting these arrows," he added. Genot's request - communicated in a letter to Dichter - was thought to be an attempt at preempting an expected 2-1 rejection of Genot's appointment by the Advisory Committee on Senior Civil Service Appointments later this week. "Despite my profound belief in my truth, despite my desire to dedicate many years, totaling more than 40 years of service, to the advancement of the Israel Police, I am not willing for the criticism that has stuck to me to stick to the force," Genot wrote in the letter. "I don't want the dynamic that has begun to continue to ricochet throughout the Israel Police, which is so important to me," he continued, echoing the words of incumbent Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi in his own recent resignation, which takes effect on May 1. Dichter named Genot for the position less than two hours after Karadi announced his resignation following the release of the Zeiler Report in February. Although Dichter recently said he had a "back-up plan" in the event that Genot's nomination was not passed by the panel headed by former Supreme Court justice Ya'acov Turkel, the Public Security Ministry refused to comment on Genot's letter on Monday night. Dichter has already said he was not interested in the post being filled by a member of the current crop of police commanders, specifically ruling out the man picked to serve as Genot's deputy, Cmdr. Mickey Levy. Turkel has strongly opposed Genot's appointment, and was reportedly joined in this position by Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander. Committee member Maj.-Gen. (res.) Haim Erez remained the lone voice supporting Genot's nomination. Genot was supposed to be the great white hope for the Israel Police. Scandals have plagued the force in recent months, and the mudslinging during Zeiler Commission testimony left the thin blue line splattered with allegations of corruption. It quickly became clear that Genot was not free from the shadow of corruption, either. Back when he was a senior police officer, Genot was tried in Nazareth District Court on charges of accepting a bribe, fraud and breach of trust. He was originally accused of seven separate offenses, all of which allegedly occurred while he commanded the police's Northern District. The state dropped two of the charges, and the District Court acquitted him of the rest. The Supreme Court upheld the acquittal on appeal, but justice Ya'acov Kedmi voted to convict Genot of breach of faith. The majority, justices Eliezer Goldberg and Yitzhak Zamir, wrote with regard to the bribery charges that while it was customary not to interfere with a lower court's interpretation of the facts, they had found the state's case to be persuasive, and that had they presided over the original trial, they might have ruled differently. "From the first day that my appointment was discussed, there were those who chose to focus on one point in my past, one that was written on the sidelines of a Supreme Court ruling, which then found me innocent at the end of the day," Genot wrote in his letter to Dichter. "Medals and years of service did not prevent this focus on a comment made 13 years ago." The resignation effectively ended Genot's 40-plus years of service with the police and the Israel Prisons Service. Genot's position as IPS head will be filled by outgoing police Asst. Insp.-Gen. Benny Kaniak in the coming weeks. Even if the nomination had been okayed by the Turkel Commission, multiple High Court petitions submitted by anticorruption watchdog organizations awaited the appointment. Dan Izenberg contributed to this report.