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Attorney general puts kibosh on Gal Hirsch for top cop

Yehuda Weinstein says it will take months to clarify whether nominee’s foreign dealings were all above board

Gal Hirsch, a former IDF brigadier-general who had been tapped to be the next head of the Israel Police, arrives to testify before the Turkel Committee vetting his appointment at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on September 1, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/File)
Gal Hirsch, a former IDF brigadier-general who had been tapped to be the next head of the Israel Police, arrives to testify before the Turkel Committee vetting his appointment at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on September 1, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/File)

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is expected to tell Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan that he cannot legally back the appointment of former IDF general Gal Hirsch as police chief, the latest chapter in a weeks-long saga over the controversial nomination.

Weinstein held discussions with senior officials in his office over the past few days and after that, updated Erdan that he could not remove all doubts lingering about alleged business misconduct in Hirsch’s private dealings.

Weinstein added that a thorough examination of Hirsch’s businesses may take months and even then he cannot guarantee that Hirsch will be totally in the clear.

Erdan has vehemently sought to appoint Hirsch, a former IDF official who went on to establish the Defensive Shield Holdings firm, as the next police chief, filling a gap in the force. Senior police officers opposed the appointment from outside the force, and others also questioned Hirsch’s record during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

In a move Hirsch himself called politically-motivated, senior police officers have showed Erdan information implying that some of Defensive Shield Holdings’ businesses abroad were not entirely aboveboard.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

The company is a private security firm with a diverse array of services, and has done deals all over the world.

In one of its deals in Georgia, a former government minister who has fallen in disgrace and left the country, was accused of using the deal with Defensive Shield to siphon state money. The former minister was an ex-Israeli.

Weinstein criticized Erdan’s insistence on appointing someone from outside the police ranks to head the organization. Speaking at a conference of lawyers last week, Weinstein said in an apparent jibe at Erdan that “it is inconceivable to me that as the passion to appoint a chief from outside the police grows, the achievements of the Israel Police are made to look nonexistent.”

Jacob Turkel, head of a committee on the appointment of officials to senior positions, sent Erdan a letter last week where he took a noncommittal stance and said he cannot recommend for or against the appointment of Hirsch.

Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan, May 18, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan, May 18, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Since the minister who did business with Hirsch is a wanted man in his own country, Israel cannot easily obtain documents that can ensure once and for all whether some aspects of his business there were illegal.

Weinstein, aware of the potential harm to Hirsch’s reputation, suggested that he submit additional documentation that can help dispel the allegations the Georgian government made against his company.

According to Hebrew news website Ynet, Hirsch is also at liberty to come to the attorney general’s office for a private one-on-one hearing.

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