Deputy AG resigns after complaining of politicization in Justice Ministry
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Attorney General Mandelblit's most senior deputy departs

Deputy AG resigns after complaining of politicization in Justice Ministry

A week before quitting, Avi Licht said a new ideology has arisen that opposes the ministry’s work as the 'watchdog' of democracy

Deputy Attorney General Avi Licht attends the Eli Horowitz Conference for Economy and Society, organized by the Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem on June 19, 2017. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
Deputy Attorney General Avi Licht attends the Eli Horowitz Conference for Economy and Society, organized by the Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem on June 19, 2017. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Deputy Attorney General Avi Licht has resigned, a week after he complained of a growing politicization within the ranks of the Justice Ministry and interference with its role as the watchdog of democracy.

Licht was considered the most senior of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s deputies. Mandelblit is the government’s top legal adviser and the head of  the state prosecution hierarchy. As such, Mandelblit is overseeing the investigation of corruption allegations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

From 2010-2016, Licht served as deputy attorney general for economic matters. From 2016 onward he was deputy attorney general for management and special tasks.

Licht made the announcement on Monday.

A week before his resignation, Licht spoke at a roundtable of the Israel Democracy Institute think tank where he may have hinted at his motives for resigning.

“There is a feeling of declining professionalism in the civil service of the Justice Ministry and we find ourselves, unlike in previous years, operating in a space where we are not given legitimacy.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, confers with then-cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit during a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on December 20, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“In opposition to the ideology we were raised on, a new ideology had arisen, and I am not judging which is correct,” he added.

“There has always been opposition to the work of the Justice Ministry, but in recent years, our role as a watchdog, advancing the public interest and human rights, are seen among increasingly large groups of people — including in the Knesset and government — as illegitimate. A new ideological approach has arisen that sees what we do as prohibited. This approach can be summed up with the words: “Who put you in charge?”

Licht is a 20-year veteran of the Justice Ministry. He was prominently involved in the government’s natural gas plan, the Communications Ministry reform that opened the cellphone market to competition and the establishment of Kan, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation.

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