Successor to attorney general won’t be named in time for his retirement

Mandelblit reportedly says he won’t stay on ‘another minute’; committee recommending candidates aims to appoint acting AG instead

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit at the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit at the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A committee searching for Israel’s next attorney general will not complete its goal by the time Avichai Mandelblit, who has held the position for six years, ends his term on February 1, 2022.

At the committee’s first meeting on Sunday it became clear its work would not be completed before Mandelblit retires, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew sister site, Zman Yisrael, has learned. Mandelblit has ruled out extending his tenure “even for another minute,” sources involved in the matter said.

The government will instead appoint an acting attorney general until a permanent one is found.

Due to the importance of the role, the nomination usually must be agreed on unanimously by all members of the committee, and the nominee has to have the requisite professional qualifications.

Once the committee recommends to Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar three candidates, Sa’ar must select a final candidate from them, and bring the appointment to the cabinet for approval.

Sa’ar has been seeking to split the attorney general job into two, with one person serving as the government’s legal adviser and another as chief state prosecutor. He and other conservative critics have argued that the dual role creates a conflict of interest, as the attorney general is tasked with overseeing the prosecution of members of the government whose moves he is also charged with defending.

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar leads a faction meeting of his New Hope party at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on December 13, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Mandelblit appeared to strongly denounce Sa’ar’s proposal in October as a threat to democracy.

Previous attempts to split the role were widely seen as motivated by political or personal interests, since they typically came from governments whose then-prime ministers were facing criminal indictment — including Ehud Olmert in 2007-2008, and Benjamin Netanyahu several years ago.

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