On his last week in office, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit may decide to close the investigation against former minister and current United Torah Judaism MK Ya’akov Litzman, despite the position of the State Attorney’s Office, which recommended that Litzman be indicted in two cases. Mandelblit is expected to make his final decision in the coming days. He has until Monday, January 31.
Here’s a fun fact: January 31 is also Shvat 29 which, according to the Jewish calendar is also Yon Kippur Kattan, a day of meditation and possibly fasting on the eve of Adar I.
Litzman, 73, is suspected of two affairs, in which he allegedly used his status and power as health minister to advance the interests of private individuals, helping them evade prosecution.
Will Mandelblit muster the power and will to close the cases against Litzman over the head of State Attorney Amit Isman who will replace him as Acting Attorney General? The record suggests he might. After all, Mandelblit has been instrumental in watering down charges against elected officials throughout his time in office, including former ministers Haim Katz and Aryeh Deri, the Balad party, and possibly Netanyahu.
Litzman is accused of obstructing the extradition of Malka Leifer, the defendant in the Adass Israel School sex abuse scandal. According to Israeli media, he encouraged a psychiatrist to issue a false evaluation suggesting Leifer was unfit to face trial in Australia. On August 6, 2019, Israel Police recommended indicting Litzman for “fraud and breach of trust” related to the Leifer case. In May 2021, Mandelblit announced that he would indict Litzman for obstruction of justice and breach of trust. But to date, he hasn’t.
The second case against the former health minister is the Goldis restaurant affair, in which Litzman is accused of breach of trust for allegedly assisting the restaurant to evade a 2015 hearing of the health ministry’s district food department. Ultimately, the restaurant was ordered to stop producing and selling salads and other food products due to serious sanitary deficiencies and diners’ illnesses. The ministry also revoked the restaurant’s manufacturer’s license for violations of its conditions.