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PM must act, says Ben-Gvir, accusing AG of double standard

Israeli Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara is employing two sets of rules out of political motives, said the national security minister.

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir at the scene of a stabbing attack outside a Jerusalem police station, Nov. 6, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir at the scene of a stabbing attack outside a Jerusalem police station, Nov. 6, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must tell Israel’s attorney general to cease acting in a partisan manner, including in her efforts to interfere with the appointment of senior police officials, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said on Tuesday.

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara’s order to Israeli Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai last week to freeze all appointments was a partisan maneuver, Ben-Gvir said during remarks at a meeting of his Otzma Yehudit Party.

Given that Shabtai is set to retire in a few months, it is not appropriate for him to appoint officials, the attorney general reasoned, as it is general practice for those in senior positions to refrain from presenting their successors with a fait accompli in terms of personnel.

Ben-Gvir pointed out during Sunday’s Cabinet meeting that the attorney general had nothing to say about senior appointments made by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi.

Said Ben-Gvir, “I didn’t want to interfere because of the claim that commanders are being appointed to replace those who fell in battle, but I have to ask the attorney general: Tell me, why do you say here that you don’t find a source of authority to interfere with these appointments, and with Commissioner Shabtai you stopped all appointments?”

Baharav-Miara didn’t have an answer, saying only that the Cabinet meeting wasn’t the appropriate forum to discuss the issue and she would explain the difference privately.

Different rules have been applied to the police commissioner and the IDF chief for two reasons, Ben-Gvir asserted at the Otzma Yehudit faction meeting. The first has to do with prejudice against Shabtai, who doesn’t come from the “right milieu.” The second is directed at himself.

“They are trying to do everything so that I don’t appoint the next head of the Police Investigations Department,” he said.

(The PID is responsible for investigating alleged wrongdoing by police personnel.)

“And I think this behavior is problematic. I demand that the prime minister intervene, that the prime minister should call the attorney general in and convey the situation to her well, and convey it clearly,” Ben-Gvir said.

Ben-Gvir and the attorney general have had run-ins before, most recently last week when the minister came to support a border policewoman who was called in by the Police Investigations Department on March 13 over her shooting of an Arab boy in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat.

The boy, 12, has shot fireworks directly at IDF soldiers. The border policewoman opened fire, killing him. Ben-Gvir said she acted appropriately and that it was a disgrace she was being investigated.

Baharav-Miara criticized Ben-Gvir, saying his interference “seriously harms the rule of law and constitutes a politicization of the law enforcement system.”

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