AG dresses down embattled deputy over her criticism of loyalty bill
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AG dresses down embattled deputy over her criticism of loyalty bill

After Avichai Mandelblit tells Dina Zilber to ‘refrain from similar remarks’ in the future, justice minister says she won’t allow Zilber to attend Knesset meetings

Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber speaks during a meeting of the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee on November 6, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber speaks during a meeting of the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee on November 6, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday reprimanded his deputy, Dina Zilber, telling her to refrain in the future from remarks such as the criticism she expressed last week of the “loyalty in culture” law pushed by the government.

The move prompted Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to say Zilber won’t be allowed in any Knesset committee meetings for the next few months.

Shaked last week called for Zilber to be fired for her criticism of the so-called “loyalty in culture” bill during a Knesset committee meeting. Zilber also condemned the political climate in Israel, and accused lawmakers from the right-wing coalition of seeking to minimize dissenting opinions.

Mandelblit had previously said that Zilber would not be suspended.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit at a conference in Jerusalem on February 5, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

But earlier this week, his office said that Zilber would not be joining Knesset or cabinet discussions, unless he personally approves it, until an internal investigation into her conduct is concluded.

In a letter to Zilber published Thursday, Mandelblit wrote: “I expect you to use judgment in the future and refrain from similar remarks. You will continue to represent me anywhere needed, including at the Knesset and the government. In the near future, you must coordinate the opinions you intend to express with me ahead of time.”

Shaked responded to the letter by saying she won’t let Zilber participate in Knesset committee meetings during the current parliamentary session, which is expected to last until March.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked at a conference of Hadashot News in Jerusalem on September 3, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

She cited Basic Law: The Knesset as saying the justice minister has exclusive authority to choose the Justice Ministry’s representatives in committees.

Zilber came under fire from Shaked last Tuesday, after a meeting of the Knesset Education, Culture, and Sports Committee, during which she said that legislation threatening to strip state funding from cultural institutions that produce art seen as overly critical of the government or the state “poses real difficulties.”

The legislation cleared its first reading last week with 55 lawmakers in favor and 44 opposed. It must now head to a committee before returning to the plenum for two more Knesset votes if it is to become law.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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