Likud MK says she’s working to remove ‘unsuitable’ attorney general from position

Freshman lawmaker Tally Gotliv claims top prosecutor Gali Baharav-Miara’s legal opinions are based on politics; Likud party has previously denied that Netanyahu wants AG ousted

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara attends a conference in Tel Aviv, July 5, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara attends a conference in Tel Aviv, July 5, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Likud MK Tally Gotliv said Sunday that she was working with members of the expected incoming government to oust Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, claiming Israel’s top prosecutor was “not suitable” for the job.

“As far as I am concerned, she is a political appointment and she is not suitable for it. I am working together with all the members of the future government” to get her removed from her position, Gotliv told the Ynet news site, without specifying any lawmakers she was cooperating with on the matter.

“[Baharav-Miara] has no criminal experience, and it is unthinkable for her to head the criminal prosecution system, which is the most difficult field in the world of law,” said Gotliv, a freshman lawmaker who previously worked as an attorney.

“In addition, she has proved to me with her [legal] opinions that she is motivated from a [partisan] political position,” the lawmaker said, without providing an example.

There was no immediate comment from expected incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party on the matter.

Gotliv has clashed with the upper echelons of her Likud party in recent days, apparently angered by a request apparently leaked to the media that her first speech in the Knesset be softer than her firebrand public political statements.

MK Tally Gotliv attends a conference at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on November 28, 2022 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The top prosecutor in Israel is tapped by a search committee and must receive the approval of cabinet ministers. Ahead of her appointment, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar said Baharav-Miara had the strongest courtroom experience of all candidates for the position.

Likud leader Netanyahu — who is on trial on corruption charges — and the party have frequently railed at prosecutors, law enforcement, and the court system in recent years, claiming without evidence that the ex-premier was indicted on trumped-up charges in order to force him from office.

Ahead of the November elections, a senior member of the Likud party said he believed Netanyahu would fire Baharav-Miara if he were to return to power.

MK Nir Barkat’s remarks — which echoed previous statements made in recent months by other party members — were denied hours later by the Likud party at the time, in a statement saying Netanyahu had no plans to oust Baharav-Miara.

Likud issued a statement saying Barkat’s words “only represent himself and are contrary to the stance of Likud and former prime minister Netanyahu.

“There is no intention of firing the attorney general,” it said.

There was no immediate similar statement in reaction to Gotliv on Sunday.

MK Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a court hearing in his trial, at the District Court in Jerusalem on May 17, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Barkat, widely regarded as a potential future contender for the Likud leadership, said he supports reforming the attorney general’s position by splitting it into two: one official in charge of prosecution, and another serving as legal adviser to the government.

Conservative critics have for years been arguing that having the same official hold both roles at once creates an inherent conflict of interest when deciding whether to press charges against a member of the government.

Last month, Baharav-Miara butted heads with the Likud-led bloc by saying that recently convicted Shas leader Aryeh Deri, who is slated to initially serve as interior and health minister in the likely new government, must get his appointment cleared by the Central Elections Committee, which could refuse.

A member of Deri’s Shas party has submitted a bill to let individuals who have not served active prison terms over the past seven years be appointed ministers, which if passed would allow the ultra-Orthodox leader to again become a minister without needing to appeal to the elections committee.

Shas leader Aryeh Deri leaves a hotel in Jerusalem after holding coalition talks with Religious Zionist chief Bezalel Smotrich and Likud head Benjamin Netanyahu, December 5, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

According to reports on Sunday, Baharav-Miara is expected to raise reservations over the bill but stop short of calling it unconstitutional, feeling she cannot definitively declare that the proposed amendment is a personal measure meant to specifically aid Deri.

However, Baharav-Miara will reportedly oppose a bill that would give extremist Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir unprecedented authority over the police force as national security minister.

Both Shas and Otzma Yehudit are allied with presumed incoming premier Netanyahu’s Likud party, which together with their other Haredi and far-right partners won a majority of Knesset seats in the November 1 elections.

Netanyahu has been working since then to cobble together a new government and on Friday was granted an additional 10 days to finalize his coalition, giving him until December 21.

The presumed incoming coalition is expected to enact controversial and wide-ranging judicial reform.

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