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Seems set to take over probe of alleged police spyware abuse

Amid spyware crisis, ministers approve Gali Baharav-Miara as new attorney general

Unanimously backed, ex-lawyer in Tel Aviv district attorney’s office will be first woman to hold top justice role, comes into post with low public profile, under intense scrutiny

Gali Baharav-Miara. (Courtesy)
Gali Baharav-Miara. (Courtesy)

Ministers on Monday unanimously approved Gali Baharav-Miara as the next attorney general to replace Avichai Mandelblit.

The relatively unknown former Tel Aviv district attorney for civil affairs will be the nation’s first woman to take up the top justice role.

Baharav-Miara is currently an attorney with the Tel Aviv law firm Tadmor Levy & Co.

Mandelblit stepped down upon completion of his six-year term on January 31, and State Attorney Amit Aisman has been temporarily filling the role.

Last week, both Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar expressed support for Baharav-Miara. In a statement, Sa’ar said that she had the strongest courtroom experience of the search committee’s candidates, and that she “argued more cases and wrote more summaries than any other candidate who appeared before the committee.”

The other two nominees were Roi Scheindorf, the current deputy attorney general for international law; and Defense Ministry legal adviser Itai Ofir.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar at the Knesset on July 13, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“This is one of the most important and sensitive appointments in the public service, and at this time, given the erosion of public confidence in law enforcement, there is an important opportunity here to maintain what needs to be maintained and to correct what needs to be corrected,” Bennett said following Baharav-Miara’s approval.

“We need a good, strong and serious establishment that the public will trust. Moreover, the basic role of the attorney general is to assist the government in implementing its policy in the framework of the confines of the law. The government is here to govern, to function, to work for the benefit of the citizens of the state and to take the country forward,” he said.

“Here, I would also like to point out that with the government’s confirmation, for the first time, the State of Israel will – with God’s help – have a female attorney general. Our government sees all citizens of Israel, women and men, as being able to achieve anything.”

The ministers okayed her after a short meeting of just under 15 minutes, during which they also discussed the NSO police spying scandal.

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives at the Jerusalem District Court for a hearing in his ongoing corruption trial, on November 22, 2021. (Oren Ben Hakoon/Pool)

Bennett implied that Gali Baharav-Miara will take over an investigation into the affair.

“I would say it’s an advantage that she is not from the establishment,” he said. “We will sit and discuss, we will understand the situation and we will not leave the public without an answer. We understand the severity of the matter.”

Baharav-Miara will have several high-profile cases to deal with. These include the whereabouts of state gifts given to Benjamin Netanyahu that the former premier was ordered to return, a gift of $20,000 that an Australian billionaire gave to ex-Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, and the alleged harassment of state’s witness Shlomo Filber by two Netanyahu aides.

She will also have to determine whether and how to proceed with negotiations on a plea bargain for Netanyahu, who is on trial in three graft cases and whose lawyers negotiated with Mandelblit, reportedly coming close to a deal, in recent weeks.

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