Justice Minister Amir Ohana (Likud) announced on Monday the his appointment to replace outgoing State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan is Deputy Central District Attorney Orly Ben-Ari Ginsberg, who will become Acting State Prosecutor.
The appointment is in clear defiance of the order handed down to Minister Ohana by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.
Ohana said on Tuesday: “I have no doubt that Orly will work to preserve everything worth preserving, and contribute to strengthening public confidence in this all-important system.”
Ben-Ari Ginsberg is considered highly experienced in security cases, but has a shorter tenure than the other two candidates, Deputy State Prosecutor Shlomo Lamberger (Mandelblit’s singular choice), and head of the Economics Department in the State’s Prosecutor’s office, Dan Eldad.
Because of the dispute over the appointment, between the Justice Minister and the AG, the appointment will most likely be challenged in the High Court of Justice, about which the AG has already said he would not represent the justice ministry. In such a case, Ohana would be free to hire a different attorney to represent his office.
In his message this morning, Ohana counted a number of people who had praised Ben-Ari Ginsberg: Outgoing State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, Judge Uri Shoham, Judge Oded Modric, Judge Khalid Kabov, Judge Menachem Finkelstein, and Chief of the Military Intelligence Directorate Tamir Heyman.
However, it should be noted that those quotes praising Ben-Ari Ginsberg’s work had not been given in the context of her pending appointment.
On Monday, Civil Service Commissioner Daniel Hershkowitz addressed Minister Ohana and Mandelblit, asking them to fulfill their duty of consulting with each other regarding the choice for Shai Nitzan’s replacement.
Ohana replied: “The Attorney General’s consent – not a condition for the appointment of an Acting State Prosecutor.”
Despite her being qualified for the temporary assignment, as an organic part of the state prosecution apparatus, the fact that Ben-Ari Ginsberg will be in charge of the most sensitive prosecution in Israel’s history – that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with her new appointment lasting past the March 2 elections and well into late spring and early summer, as the next Knesset parties are busy cobbling their next coalition government – there may have been an advantage to the Justice Minister and the Attorney General reaching a temporary appointment they both agreed on. But the superior style in which Mandelblit commanded Ohana to follow his directive or else, left little room for cooperation.
In the meantime, former Civil Service Commissioner Professor Yitzhak Gal-Nur told Reshet Bet radio: “We have a transitional government. We have a Justice Minister who has not been approved by the Knesset. It’s a temporary appointment of the State Prosecutor. The law cannot get into such strange situations. In such a situation, logic says that a temporary minister cannot do as he pleases.”
Logic, shmogic, the law says Ohana actually can do as he pleases, so enjoy the ride. And, naturally, see y’all in the High Court.