Attorney general raises concerns over Ben Gvir’s pick for police chief

Baharav-Miara points to 2015 probe into Deputy Commissioner Avshalom Peled, says it shows problems with his behavior; Ben Gvir: She’d oppose any candidate I put forward

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara arrives at a Jerusalem Day conference at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, June 5, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara arrives at a Jerusalem Day conference at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, June 5, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara has raised concerns over National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s selection for the next Israel Police commissioner due to a criminal probe in his past, Hebrew media reported Thursday.

In April, Ben Gvir, who oversees the police force, announced that Deputy Commissioner Avshalom Peled was his pick for next chief of police. Last week, the officer was interviewed for the role by the Advisory Committee on Senior Civil Service Appointments, chaired by former High Court of Justice president Asher Grunis.

In her legal opinion to the committee, Baharav-Miara cited a 2015 criminal investigation into Peled that resulted in disciplinary action but no charges.

Peled was probed for breach of trust and abuse of official power, Haaretz reported in June, as part of a criminal probe against then-Mateh Yehuda Regional Council head Moshe Dadon. Through a wiretap, Peled was recorded asking Dadon to legalize illegal construction on the council’s territory, while Dadon asked Peled for help in placing an acquaintance in the senior ranks of the police.

Peled received a disciplinary note in 2016 and was promoted by then-police chief Roni Alsheich in 2017, while the criminal case against him was closed.

The attorney general reportedly wrote that the chief of police is supposed to be an exemplary role model, but the probe at the time found that Peled had used his position as a civil servant to advance personal interests and noted that his testimony to the Department of Internal Police Investigations contained considerable contradictions, Hebrew media reported.

Baharav-Miara noted that Peled has a right to respond to her concerns, suggesting that the selection committee invite Peled for a further interview on the matter before deciding on his appointment.

The selection committee had asked the attorney general to explain if she would defend Peled’s selection against any possible challenges in the High Court of Justice.

Police deputy commissioner Avshalom Peled at the Israel Police Independence Day ceremony at the National Headquarters of the Israel Police in Jerusalem May 9, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The committee is set to study the response on Sunday and then decide if it wants to speak with Peled again. The 2015 probe came up during his first interview, but the committee may now seek further clarifications based on points raised by Baharav-Miara, reports said.

Ben Gvir claimed in a statement Thursday that the attorney general would oppose any candidate he submitted.

“She’s not interested that he was cleared of suspicion. She’s not interest that he was promoted by the previous commissioner. She’s not interested in the fact that when I appointed him deputy commissioner, neither she nor anyone else made any claim… The reason she is behaving in this manner is that she is trying to shoot down the appointments of Itamar Ben Gvir. The reason is that I chose Avshalom Peled for the job and that’s enough as far as the attorney general is concerned to try to prevent the appointment. No matter who I’d bring, the attorney general would try to thwart the appointment.”

Baharav-Miara’s concerns stem from a recommendation by the Department of Internal Police Investigations in 2015 not to promote Peled to the rank of superintendent.

Head of the Otzma Yehudit party and Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir leads a faction meeting of the Otzma Yehudit party at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on June 10, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Time is running out to find a replace outgoing police commissioner Kobi Shabtai, whose tenure will end Wednesday.

Baharav-Miara, who was appointed by the politically diverse previous government, has regularly found herself at loggerheads with current government ministers, particularly Ben Gvir.

In May, she said Ben Gvir was acting out of “ulterior motives” when he pushed to dismiss Shabtai early from his position. In January, Ben Gvir declared that Baharav-Miara “hates” him after she charged he exceeded his powers by intervening in police work related to the right to protest.

Most Popular
read more: