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Ben-Gvir to High Court: ‘Permit me to represent myself’

"I no longer trust the attorney general," the national security minister, himself a lawyer, tells the judges.

Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir speaks during a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, Feb. 15, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir speaks during a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, Feb. 15, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir asked the Supreme Court on Monday to permit him to seek independent counsel and not be tied to the representation of the attorney general, in whom he has lost confidence.

Ben-Gvir faces a number of petitions in the Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, including against a recently passed amendment in the Knesset subordinating the police to his ministry, his appointment as minister, his conduct towards anti-judicial reform protesters, and his removal from office of Tel Aviv District Police Commander Amichai Eshad.

The clash between Ben-Gvir and Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara came to the public’s attention when Baharav-Miara on Friday reversed Ben-Gvir’s decision from the previous day to remove Eshed from his post.

Ben-Gvir had argued that Eshed was not doing enough to crack down on judicial reform protesters who were breaking the law, including blocking the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv. Eshed was to be transferred to a position as head of police training.

However, the attorney general rejected Ben-Gvir’s decision, saying there were “serious concerns regarding the legality and correctness of the procedure, including the considerations underlying the decision, the timing of the announcement and the background to it.”

Ben-Gvir, a lawyer, responded in a petition to the Supreme Court requesting that he be allowed to determine his own legal representation.

“The attorney general did not speak to me prior to her announcement and did not seek to understand how the decision was made in the case of Commander Amichai Eshad and when. For anyone who has not understood until now, this is a left-wing, biased, nonobjective attorney general who acts on behalf of the previous government with a distinct political agenda. And the attorney general’s announcement shows how important the legal reform is,” he said.

He further stated in his appeal that Baharav-Miara’s “conduct is unconstitutional, unreasonable, disproportionate and unfair. It is not appropriate for the attorney general to make such an unusual and severe decision without talking to the minister. Under these circumstances, the minister asks the honorable court: Allow the minister to represent himself or alternatively to hire an attorney.”

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