Petition filed with High Court against firing of Bar-Lev

Movement for Quality Government: Decision "contradicting the law and motivated by illegitimate reasons."

bar-lev 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
bar-lev 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Movement for Quality Government in Israel filed a petition with the High Court of Justice on Wednesday against Police Commissioner Inspector Gen. David Cohen and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter's decision to fire Southern Police District head Commander Uri Bar-Lev. The movement asked that the court compel them to explain why they would not refrain from expelling Bar-Lev, "an excelling officer who has already completed his academic studies necessary for senior command positions in the police." Therefore, the petition states, the decision to fire Bar-Lev due to his refusal to take a study leave is "unreasonable, contradicting the law and motivated by illegitimate reasons." Since the police force is a public employer, added the MQG, the commissioner must treat his subordinates with decency, which is not the case here. In addition, the MQG demands that Dichter explain why he would not refrain from making a decision when a transitional government is in place, noting that all other promotions of senior police officers have been placed on hold for the same reason. This appeal was filed regardless of the fact that on Tuesday Dichter appeared to have distanced himself from the controversial attempt to fire Bar-Lev, saying that Bar-Lev had two weeks to decide whether to accept an offer to go on study leave. Bar-Lev, who is credited with a significant reduction of crime in the Southern District, was summarily dismissed by Cohen in late August after turning down Cohen's offer of a study leave, which police sources interpreted at the the time as an attempt to push Bar-Lev out of the force. On Tuesday, Dichter sent a letter to Bar-Lev's lawyer, Ya'acov Ne'eman, and to the High Court, asking Bar-Lev to make a decision on the study leave offer within 14 days. Dichter's stance was notably different from that of Cohen, who has demanded that Bar-Lev be be fired immediately for not accepting the police commissioner's authority. Last Thursday, the High Court rejected Dichter's request to delay a court session on Bar-Lev's future by three weeks - until after the Kadima primaries. The High Court is scheduled to hold a session on the issue on December 15. Bar-Lev, who holds two degrees, has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks to return to the police force and to accept Dichter's offer as a compromise, on the understanding that he could be reinstated to the force in the near future. He refused to comment on Dichter's letter Tuesday. In September, Bar-Lev appealed to the High Court against his forced leave of absence and Cohen's attempt to dismiss him. Yaakov Lapin contributed to this report.