Attorney general says no obstacle to police chief nomination
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Attorney general says no obstacle to police chief nomination

Mandelblit rules process can move forward, regardless of paper he received from police officials with allegedly compromising claims about candidates

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

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit ruled Friday that there was no legal obstacle to proceeding with the appointment of the next commissioner of the Israel Police, after reviewing a police document that was said to contain sensitive and “embarrassing” information about two of the candidates.

The document, which Hadashot TV news and the Haaretz newspaper said was provided to Mandelblit by outgoing police chief Roni Alsheich, reportedly detailed problematic conduct by leading candidate Yoram Halevi, the current Jerusalem police chief, and related to a polygraph test he took in March.

It also contained information about a second candidate, Moshe Edri, the director general of the Public Security Ministry who used to head the Tel Aviv District.

The document was drafted by police legal council Ayelet Elisher and police said it was handed over to Mandelblit as demanded by law.

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich addresses the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations annual mission in Jerusalem on February 20, 2018. (Avi Hayoun)

However, the attorney general determined that the information did not warrant delaying the nomination process and that there was no legal impediment to the appointment of any of the candidates.

A senior judicial official told Hadashot that the document contained information that amounted to no more than “gossip and hearsay.”

Alsheich is to end his term in December. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan had been required to provide to a vetting committee the name of his preferred candidate to succeed the police chief by Thursday, but delayed due to the document. He is now expected to move forward with the nomination.

Erdan has been reviewing three candidates for the job: Halevi, Edri and current Tel Aviv police chief David Bitan.

Jerusalem police chief Yoram Halevi speaks to the press at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on July 27, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The nomination process has faced several obstacles.

The High Court of Justice in September ordered a freeze on all proceedings of the four-person committee that vets candidates for senior public service positions, due to possible conflicts of interest by two of its members. The two later resigned their positions and were replaced, putting the nomination process for the next police commissioner and IDF chief of staff back on track.

Also in September media reports surfaced that Halevi had performed poorly in polygraph tests meant to vet the candidates for the top job. The purported leaks raised speculation that Alsheich was looking to torpedo Halevi’s candidacy. The police chief strongly denied the claims.

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