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October 24, 2016 / 22 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Attorney General’

Netanyahu OKs Major Road Works on Shabbat with Tacit Haredi Approval

Friday, August 26th, 2016

After a tense night of negotiations, on Friday morning Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that he succeeded in resolving the potential coalition crisis with the two Haredi parties in his government over work that had been scheduled for Shabbat at the Derekh HasHalom (Heb: Peace Road) train station in Tel Aviv. The resolution was that works which must be carried out because of risk to human life will proceed on schedule on Shabbat, while other works will be delayed until after Shabbat.

The Prime Minster’s office released a statement announcing the establishment of a new committee, headed by Netanyahu’s chief of staff Yoav Horowitz, to look into enhancing communication between the Ministry of Transport and the Haredi factions.

Haredi party officials have told Walla that “the crisis is behind us. The Prime Minster’s announcement was made in full coordination with us. We see it as our success, when Netanyahu announces that works which do not pose risk to human life will not be carried out on Shabbat.”

Members of Netanyahu’s inner circle have reportedly requested that the Haredim not turn the resolution into a victory celebration, and so they have maintained a restrained response.

Over the past 24 hours, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas), Health Minister Yakov Litzman and MK Moshe Gafni (both from UTJ) sent Netanyahu an urgent letter Thursday night, demanding a halt to the works on Shabbat, warning of a possible coalition collapse. “Should these works be performed by order of the Israeli government, causing public desecration of Shabbat, this would constitute a serious precedence and a blatant violation of the status quo,” they wrote.

What ensued was a back-and-forth debate as to who is in fact in charge of making Shabbat-work decisions: Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Welfare Minister Haim Katz, who is in charge of Work and Rest decisions, or Prime Minister Netanyahu. They approached Attorney General Avichai Mandelblitt who ruled that the authority is, indeed, with Haim Katz, but since this constitute a coalition breaking issue, it should be sent up to the PM.

David Israel

IDF Military Advocate General Issues Update on 2014 Gaza War-Related Criminal Investigations

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

IDF Military Advocate General (MAG) on Wednesday issued a press release regarding a number of alleged “exceptional incidents” that took place during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. Many of these claims originated in complaints that were transmitted to the MAG Corps on behalf of Arab residents of the Gaza Strip, as well as by several NGOs. Other allegations were made in media reports, as well as by internal IDF operational reports.

To date, the MAG Corps has received some 500 complaints about 360 incidents alleged to have occurred over the course of the Operation. Some alleged incidents received more than one complaint.

Each complaint suggesting misconduct by IDF forces, undergoes an initial examination. If the allegation is deemed credible, prima facie, and is sufficiently concrete, it is referred to the MAG for a decision as to whether an immediate criminal investigation is warranted without further examination, or whether the incident should be referred to the General Staff Mechanism for Fact-Finding Assessments (FFA Mechanism), for a prior factual examination before making a decision on whether to open a criminal investigation.

To date, in the wake of allegations that indicated prima facie grounds for a reasonable suspicion of criminal misconduct, the MAG has ordered the opening of criminal investigations without the need for prior factual examination with regard to 24 exceptional incidents. Of these criminal investigations, the MAG decided to issue indictments against three IDF soldiers, accused of looting and of aiding and abetting looting. The legal proceedings regarding these charges are underway at the present time.

Regarding 13 other criminal investigations, the MAG has closed the cases without undertaking any criminal or disciplinary proceedings. The remainder of the investigations are still ongoing – some are still underway, and some have been completed with their findings having been submitted to the MAG for review.

Other allegations, which did not indicate prima facie grounds for a reasonable suspicion of criminal misconduct, were referred to the FFA Mechanism for examination. This mechanism, which was initiated while the operation was still underway, collates information and relevant materials and undertakes inquiries, in order to assess the facts of exceptional incidents. These efforts are intended to provide the MAG with as much factual information as possible in order to reach decisions regarding whether or not to open a criminal investigation, as well as for the purpose of a “lessons-learned” process and the issuance of operational recommendations that will assist in mitigating the risk of exceptional incidents occurring in the future.

All in all, to date, around 360 complaints and reports relating to around 220 exceptional incidents alleged to have occurred over the course of the Operation have been transmitted to the FFA Mechanism for examination, after undergoing an initial examination by the MAG Corps.

To date, after reviewing the factual findings and the material collated by the FFA Mechanism, the MAG has referred seven incidents for criminal investigation. One of these investigations has already been the subject of a decision by the MAG. Other investigations have been completed and are awaiting review of their findings by the MAG, or are currently ongoing.

With regard to around 80 additional incidents that were examined by the FFA Mechanism, the MAG decided to close the case without opening a criminal investigation, where the actions of the IDF forces involved did not give rise to reasonable grounds for suspicion of criminal behavior. However, in relation to some of these incidents, the MAG recommended reviewing operational methods in order to assess whether any changes should be made. In certain cases that were closed, the MAG found that no involvement of IDF forces could be identified in regard to the incident.

David Israel

Liberman Plans to Bypass Chairman Abbas, Forge Direct Relationships with PA Arabs

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told military correspondents in his Kirya office in Tel Aviv on Wednesday that he intends to seek out Arab leaders living in the Palestinian Authority and bypass the PLO-run authority government. He wants a personal dialogue with academics, business people and intellectuals. In fact, according to Liberman, his staff has already put together a list of these people whom he now intends to pursue.

There’s also going to be a new website in Arabic, reporting the news of the day from the Defense Ministry’s perspective. It will cost about $2.5 million.

“I want to connect with them directly, not through the [PA headquarters in Ramallah] Muqata,” Liberman reiterated, saying he expects the new website to hit the Internet by the end of January. He admits it’s an ambitious and challenging project, but he’s going for it nonetheless, budgets, regulatory standards and all.

According to Liberman, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has been an obstacle to a working solution for the area. Indeed, he asked, “if there are intellectuals, academics, those who stand out on the municipal level — why should they talk to us through Abbas?” Also, if “[Abbas] is talking directly to the Israeli society, why can’t we speak directly to the Palestinian society?”

When asked why, then, if he is seeking out PA Arabs for a dialogue, did he bar the entry into Israel of Muhammad al-Madani, chairman of the Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society, Liberman said al-Madani, a senior PLO official, was not coming to have a dialogue and seek co-existence, but the opposite.

Liberman also told the military correspondents about a rift between himself and the Attorney General Avihay Mandelblitt, who objects to the Defense Minister’s policy of holding on to the bodies of terrorists killed while carrying out attacks against Israelis and has gone so far as to state that he would refuse to defend the new policy before the Supreme Court. Liberman said that’s fine, if need be he would defend the policy before the court. Liberman said he asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the issue in the cabinet, because “it looks a little grotesque that the two ministries (Internal Security and Defense) maintain contradictory policies on this matter.”

The Justice Ministry also objects to Liberman’s new policy on terrorist bodies, because it contradicts fundamental Supreme Court rulings. They do support conditioning the release on the families’ committing to small funerals that won’t erupt into riots.


AG Recommends Evacuating Amona, Residents Hoping for Political Rescue

Monday, August 8th, 2016

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said on Sunday that there is no legal obstacle barring a review of the status of lands adjacent to the community of Amona in Benjamin regional council, to start a discussion of potentially moving there the residents of the community which has been slated for demolition by the end of the year by the supreme court. Mandelblit spoke at a discussion with government officials of regulating the status of Amona.

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that the Amona community is illegal under Israeli law, based on petitions of presumed original Arab owners of the land who had been rounded up by anti-Zionist groups like Peace Now and Yesh Din. Since then, the court has ruled again on the Amona case, ordering that the Jewish residents must be evacuated, the housing and infrastructure destroyed and the area be handed to the Arabs.

According to the Amona residents, when the community was founded in 1995 it was by a state initiative, promoted by then housing minister Natan Sharansky, who invested millions of dollars in creating an infrastructure, paving roads and promoting construction, all of it under the auspices of the state. If there were irregularities with the land purchase, it was the state’s problem, not theirs. Had they known the land was privately owned they would have stayed away, but they were told by the state to move in — let the state deal with the alleged original owners.

It should be noted that when Mandelblit was being considered for the AG appointment, he was favored by the right for his idea that in just these kinds of cases, with anti-Jewish settlement activists signing up claimants against existing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and the claimants prove ownership (which is not so hard to do considering the land registration archives are kept in Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority) — said claimants be compelled to accept fair market value for the property, or comparable property. Mind you, this is after some Arab real estate agent had received full pay for the same land.

Now, despite his wise recommendation on grandfathering existing Jewish communities, the AG is obviously feeling that he can’t go to battle against a clear Supreme Court ruling to demolish Amona, and so he recommends finding an alternative land not for the alleged Arab owners, but for the very real Jewish residents instead.

Amona was the site of one of the most brutal attacks of Israeli government forces on Jewish residents in the state’s history. On February 1, 2006, Amona Jewish residents and protesters were evacuated by 10,000 Israeli Police, Border Police, and Army troops. The estimated 4,000 Jews on the Amona grounds mostly consisted of youths from nearby communities. More than 300 were injured, including some 80 security personnel. Among the injured were three Knesset members. After several hours, the Amona homes had been demolished. A few girls that were evacuated accused police officers of sexual assault.

In March 2006, the Knesset parliamentary inquiry into the events at Amona determined that security forces had employed brutal force, striking protesters with clubs and charging them with horses. Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra was criticized for preventing police commanders from testifying at committee hearings. The committee also found contradictions between the testimonies of the Army Chief of Staff and the Internal Security Minister.

Today, none of the coalition parties wants to position itself behind a similar evacuation effort, a move which could kill their political aspirations among their rightwing voters. Likud, Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu officials have stated recently that this government will not permit the destruction of Amona. When the brutal evacuation took place in 2006, it was carried out by the same government that had evacuated Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip in 2005, yet another traumatic event in recent Israeli history. That government was ruled by the Kadima party, a political albatross invented by soon-to-go-comatose Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, which has since disappeared from the political map, and serves as a warning to all Israeli rightwing parties wishing to err leftward.

With that in mind, it can be expected that Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Liberman and Justice Minister Shaked come up with a solution that keeps the Jewish settlers in place, risking the ire of the high court, as well as of Israel’s many friends in the free world. It should provide for great political theater, as these three politicians will show their ability to both capitulate and gravel while proudly standing erect. It’s time to call in the chiropractors.


Liberman Reads Riot Act to Army Radio Chief Despite AG’s Objections

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

New Israeli defense minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) has spent his first month in office directing the military apparatus in substantially different directions, most notably his order for the generals to come up with a concrete plan to remove the Hamas government in Gaza — it turned out they hadn’t thought it would be useful to have one. And as the defense ministry and the army are starting to sound and act in a different manner than they did under Liberman’s predecessor, Moshe Ya’alon (Likud), the new defense boss is mending the more ideological aspects of the military system. He has added his support to the chief of staff Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot’s call to shut down the left-leaning Army Radio station, and on Thursday he became directly involved in the same station’s programming.

To be precise, earlier this week the Army Radio station devoted a program to the poetic works of Mahmoud Darwish (1941 – 2008), a member of the Israeli Communist party who is widely perceived as a “Palestinian symbol” and served as an artistic spokesman for Arab opposition to Israel. In 1988, one of his poems, “Those Who Pass Between Fleeting Words,” was cited in the Knesset by Yitzhak Shamir (Likud) for demanding that the Jews leave Israel:

“O those who pass between fleeting words / As bitter dust, go where you wish, but / Do not pass between us like flying insects / For we have work to do in our land,” Darwish called on Israel’s Jews, and concluded: “So leave our country / Our land, our sea / Our wheat, our salt, our wounds / Everything, and leave / The memories of memory / O those who pass between fleeting words!”

Following the broadcast on Army Radio, which included Darwish’s texts in its “Broadcast University” series on “Israeli founding texts,” Defense Minister Liberman summoned Army Radio commander Yaron Dekel to a disciplinary hearing Thursday at noon.

“On its face it appears to be a serious issue, whereby someone who wrote anti-Zionist texts that are still fueling acts of terrorism against the State of Israel merits to be included along with his texts by the military station in the foundation texts of Israeli society, together with Jerusalem of Gold and The Silver Tray (two popular and very beautiful song by Naomi Shemer and Natan Alterman respectively),” Liberman said. “Obviously this constitutes an [ideological] eclipse which cannot be ignored.”

On Wednesday night Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit phoned Liberman to inform him that he does not have the authority to intervene in the Army Station’s programming. Mandelblit based his warning on a 2015 opinion by Vice Counsel on Legislation Affairs Dina Zilber, that ruled against ministers intervening in the military station.

And now Liberman decided to ignore Zilber’s opinion, which is almost unheard of in Israeli governmental politics. In many ways this might prove to be Liberman’s bravest act so far, and he may live to pay for it as an irate judicial civil service could rise up against him.

Already the president of the Press Council, retired Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner, told Israel Radio that the intervention by the Minister of Defense in Army Radio broadcasting was dangerous, and said that it frightened her. “I cannot believe this is happening,” she told left-leaning hot Aryeh Golan Thursday morning. Yes, the red wagons are being circled.

David Israel

Former Netanyahu Chief of Staff Ari Harrow Interrogated A Second Time

Monday, July 18th, 2016

The former chief of staff for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was questioned a second time under caution on Monday.

Ari Harrow was taken for questioning last week upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport, although he was told he was not being arrested.

After 14 hours of interrogation “under caution” — implying he was indeed a suspect in the unspecified investigation — he was released to five days of house arrest.

The interrogation was carried out in connection with a probe into allegations of fraud in an initial investigation into the activities of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his family, as well as other government figures.

A spokesperson for Israel Police said the National Fraud Investigation Unit last week asked Harrow to provide testimony about Netanyahu’s alleged financial misappropriations.

Earlier last week Israeli Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit ordered an initial probe into the prime minister’s actions as part of the wider investigation of financial activity by government officials.

Harrow served as chief of staff to Netanyahu in 2014.

Hana Levi Julian

Speaker Edelstein Calls on AG to Conclude Police ‘Blackmail List’ Investigation

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Wednesday demanded that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit conclude his examination of a secret Israel Police dossier which reportedly details evidence regarding alleged offenses committed by Knesset members.

In his letter to the Attorney General, Edelstein said, “On June 22, 2016 a meeting was held in my office with the Police Commissioner and the head of the Police Investigations and Intelligence Department regarding the police document that was prepared in 2014 and which summarizes criminal and intelligence information on Knesset members who served at the time. During the meeting I noted the sensitivity (of the matter) and the problematic situation that was created due to the fact that the existence of such a document had been leaked, because it allegedly casts a cloud over all Knesset members, and creates a feeling in the public as if dozens of Knesset members are suspected of criminal acts.”

“I also stressed the importance of publishing an official clarification as soon as possible, to the public and the Knesset members, regarding the list from 2014 and its relevancy, as much as it remains relevant today, so that on the one hand the public will be able to rest assured that Israel Police is doing its job faithfully and is investigating Knesset members when necessary, while on the other hand Knesset members will be certain that police are not holding information against them which could be revealed at some point down the line and hurt their work or chances of obtaining a certain position,” the letter reads.

“In response to my comments, the police commissioner said they were aware of the sensitivity (of the matter) and the harm caused to Knesset members and the Knesset by the reports, and that the list had been submitted for your examination so that an official clarification regarding this list could be released soon,” Speaker Edelstein told Mandelblit.

Edelstein stressed the urgency of concluding the examination and releasing the clarification “in order to minimize the damage caused by the continued reports about the list and by leaving them in the public and media environment without a clarification or official statement from the authorized elements.”

Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh appeared before the Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee on Wednesday and justified the document. “It was drafted so that it wouldn’t turn out later that there was something we should have reported to the State Prosecutor and Attorney General and for some reason it got stuck and did not surface [to be reviewed by] a person with authority.”

Israel’s Channel 10 News revealed last month the existence of a document nicknamed “The Yitzhaki Report” that was compiled under order of the head of the police investigations unit Maj. Gen. Meni (Menachem) Yitzhaki.

During the Knesset committee meeting, Yitzhaki told the Internal Affairs Committee that the document was written in order to comply with the attorney general`s guidelines.

Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud) said: “The head of Investigations and Intelligence Branch has power by virtue of his position. Power corrupts, and great power corrupts more. Therefore, he must act with caution.”

“I read that 80 percent of police officers use internal information for their own personal needs. It is obvious that there is information being used by people who do not have the authority to do so,” MK Amsalem added. “Something terrible is happening here. Is the information only on Knesset members? Perhaps there is information about the commissioner? Maybe there are summaries on major generals in the police force? Or on judges and journalists? I don’t think Yitzhaki acted maliciously, but there is always potential for wrongful use.”


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/speaker-edelstein-calls-on-ag-to-conclude-police-blackmail-list-investigation/2016/07/07/

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