AG said set to okay appointing police, prison chiefs despite interim government
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AG said set to okay appointing police, prison chiefs despite interim government

Public security minister has asked to name permanent choices for roles due to the unusual ongoing situation of a transitional government for past 12 months

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit speaks at a conference in Airport City, outside Tel Aviv, on September 3, 2019 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit speaks at a conference in Airport City, outside Tel Aviv, on September 3, 2019 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is set to approve a request by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to make permanent appointments to the positions of police chief and prisons chief even though he is part of a transitional government, Channel 12 reported Saturday night.

This, given the exceptional circumstances of a third election being held within a year, leading to the lack of a permanent government for 12 months now.

As a general rule, an interim government, such as the one in office since January, is not permitted to make permanent appointments to senior positions such as police chief.

“In the past, I decided not to nominate candidates to these positions in light of the dissolution of the Knesset and the expectation that a new government would be formed following the elections,” Erdan wrote to Mandelblit earlier in the week.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on July 9, 2019. (Flash90)

“However, in light of the significant and changing circumstances of the election period and the start of another election campaign, from which there is still no certainty a government will emerge, I would like to bring before the government the question of approval of candidates for permanent office,” Erdan wrote.

The police department has been led by interim chief Motti Cohen since last December after Erdan’s candidate for the post, Moshe Edri, withdrew his candidacy amid a public scandal over his conduct.

Commissioner Asher Vaknin was appointed acting chief of the Israel Prisons Service last December as well, following the conclusion of chief commissioner Ofrah Klinger’s three-year term.

Since then, the dissolution of the Knesset on two occasions and the calling of three elections have delayed the naming of permanent appointments to the two roles.

Former Israel Police chief Roni Alsheich left the police force last year after a term marked by public feuds with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior politicians, but the transition government has so far balked at attempting to appoint a new permanent police commissioner, leaving the acting chief instead with a limited mandate.

Acting Israel Police Chief Motti Cohen speaks at the annual Justice Conference in Airport City, outside Tel Aviv, on September 3, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Alsheich in September said the government’s failure to appoint a permanent replacement for him over the previous nine months had “seriously damaged the vital independence of the force.”

“There are many candidates from within the police who could fulfill the role. The elections should not delay the appointment of the police commissioner,” he said at Channel 12’s Influencers Conference in Tel Aviv.

Alsheich’s four-year term ended after Erdan, who often clashed with the commissioner, declined to extend his tenure by the customary additional year.

Alsheich, who ended his term as Israel’s top cop last year, oversaw the police investigations into Netanyahu. The prime minister, who orchestrated Alsheich’s appointment to the post, had made little secret of his dislike for the police chief over recent years, accusing him of leaking information from the investigations to the press and of conducting a “witch hunt.”

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