Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday evening sent a letter to Civil Service Commissioner Daniel Hershkowitz, stating that there is a legal impediment to extending the term of State’s Attorney Dan Eldad at this time. In his letter, the AG argues that his objection to extending the term is based on the nature of the position, the fact that the State Attorney has no authority of his own but draws it from the AG, which means that he doesn’t, in effect, fill a void in the judiciary decision-making apparatus, as well as the fact that a new Justice Minister is about to take over who will likely want to nominate his own choice for the job.
According to Eldad, however, the AG is hostile to him because he, the temporary prosecutor, is investigating him, Mandelblit.
Justice Minister Amir Ohana, also no great friend of Mandelblit’s, responded on Twitter: “I haven’t met many honest, decent, value-driven and professional attorneys like Dan Eldad […] who recognized the importance of repair and self-examination by the judicial system and the prosecutor’s office. The justice system insists on destroying what little public trust in it remains.”
The running theme of Mandelblit’s harsh criticism is that Eldad doesn’t play well with others, meaning the boys and girls of the prosecutor’s office which he has been trying to clean up.
“Unfortunately, my original position, which was based on my acquaintance with Attorney Eldad and his work, according to which he was not fit for this role, was only strengthened by his conduct in various aspects as the State Attorney,” the AG wrote. “His tenure revealed value-based, professional, and managerial failures, which in my opinion leave no doubt that he is not fit to serve in this position. I learned about these failures first and foremost from working directly with attorney Eldad.”
“Eldad hid professional and organizational issues from me about business and meetings with the Justice Minister, even though I instructed him to give me full updates on these issues,” Mandelblit continued. “Attorney Eldad has failed in the administrative area as well, and since taking office there has been a paralysis of the team work which is essential to the running of the prosecution – as a result of the almost complete distrust and disconnection between him and the senior management.”
Eldad then provided a stunning explanation as to why he had been so cagey with the senior staff in his office, and especially with his boss, AG Mandelblit: he was investigating him.
“Before the holiday, a journalist approached my office regarding Avichai Mandelblit’s case. In order to be able to respond, I decided to examine the material from the past on this issue at the State Attorney’s Office. An alarming picture emerged from the material regarding the office’s handling of Mandelblit’s case,” Eldad revealed.
Which explains why Eldad kept it a secret from Mandelblit and why the AG is so full of rage about it.
“In recent days, I have updated the relevant officials regarding my intention to enhance my investigation of the case before issuing a response (to the journalist – DI),” Eldad declared.
He also explained: “I have no doubt as to the motives behind the AG’s violent and false attack on me. From the first day of my arrival on the job, Avichai Mandelblit has been doing everything possible to sabotage my work and interfere with my proper functioning. He is now complaining about the results of his own conduct. The fact that I learned about his letter [against me] from the media says it all. It shows who works with integrity, practicality and propriety, and who does not. No one has ever deterred me from carrying out my mission in the State Attorney’s Office without fear and impartiality, and so it will remain.”
Channel 13 News reporter Akiva Novick tweeted that he is the journalist Attorney Eldad had spoken to, and that the case in question which involves Mandelblit is the Harpaz scandal: “A month and a half ago, I queried the Justice Ministry regarding the closing of the Mandelblit case in the Harpaz scandal. This query was forwarded to State Attorney Dan Eldad and he began to look into it. Eldad believes that Mandelblit is fighting him over this investigation. I asked the Justice Ministry about the reason for closing the Mandelblit case, and most importantly, about what attorney Dan Eldad was thinking about the closing, having followed the case.
“The Justice Department has tried to avoid passing the query to Eldad, arguing that there was the coronavirus and a time of an emergency. Only after a lot of pressure did they pass it on. Eldad began to investigate the matter (of why the Mandelblit investigation was closed without deciding on the cause for the closure. And was the Supreme Court aware of the entire investigation materials when it cleared him of all guilt.).
“Very shortly after he had begun the investigation, Mandelblit’s attack on Eldad started,” Novik said.
The Harpaz document, originally known as the Galant document, is a one page note that was exposed by Channel 2 News in 2010, containing instructions for building a positive image for one of the candidates for IDF Chief of Staff, Yoav Galant, while disparaging others. The document caused public outrage, and eventually turned out to be fake, stirring up an even bigger public outrage.
The document was forged by an IDF reserves officer named Boaz Harpaz, at a time of great tension between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and then Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and his staff. Each side accused the other of initiating the forgery. Harpaz’s motives remain unclear.
In June 2014, then-Secretary of the government (under Netanyahu) Avichai Mandelblit, was interrogated with a warning in relation to the scandal, because at the time of the publication of the Harpaz document, Mandelblit was the Chief IDF Prosecutor.
In January 2016, then Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided to close the investigation against Gabi Ashkenazi, who is currently joining the Netanyahu government on behalf of the Blue&White party. Harpaz was convicted of forging the document, and sentenced to 220 hours of community service.
Now it seems that the case against Mandelblit is about to reopen – and that, in his capacity as the officer in charge of state investigations, he is trying hard to prevent it.