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Cabinet secretary is sole candidate as next attorney general

Vetting committee says Avichai Mandelblit the only prospect to receive 4 out of 5 votes; move seen as victory for PM, justice minister

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with then-cabinet secretary and current Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, May 26, 2015. (Marc Israel Sellem/ Pool/ Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with then-cabinet secretary and current Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, May 26, 2015. (Marc Israel Sellem/ Pool/ Flash90)

Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelblit was named on Sunday the sole candidate for attorney general.

The committee tasked with the nominations announced that Mandelblit — said to be Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s preferred pick for the role — was the only nominee (out of 14 prospective candidates) who received the required four out of five votes.

The recommendation by the committee — headed by former Supreme Court president Asher Grunis and rounded out by attorneys Moshe Nisim and Yechiel Katz, Likud MK Anat Berko, and former Israeli ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev — was relayed to the prime minister and justice minister.

Grunis was the only member of the committee to oppose the cabinet secretary for the role.

Mandelblit’s appointment is likely to be met with petitions to the High Court of Justice due to his past implication in the so-called Harpaz corruption affair, although no charges were ever filed against him.

If he clears the legal hurdles and is appointed attorney general, he will replace Yehuda Weinstein in late January.

Mandelblit served as the IDF’s advocate general between 2009 and 2011. While in the army, Mandelblit — who holds an undergraduate and graduate degree in law — was responsible for drafting the IDF’s legal work during the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Among other matters, he dealt with the legality of using cluster bombs and with the Goldstone Report.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, right, and Attorney General of Israel, Yehuda Weinstein, Jerusalem, May 19, 2015. (Marc Israel Sellem/Flash90)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, right, and Attorney General of Israel, Yehuda Weinstein, Jerusalem, May 19, 2015. (Marc Israel Sellem/Flash90)

During his service Mandelblit was also a military judge in Gaza, where he welcomed dialogue with human rights groups, famously claiming “they do their job and I do mine.”

The nomination is seen as a victory for Netanyahu and Shaked, with the latter a vocal critic of the current attorney general, who she maintains obstructs government legislation.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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