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Israel: The acting State Prosecutor withdraws candidacy in new turn

Orly Ben Ari-Ginsberg, who was appointed Acting State Prosecutor earlier this week, on Friday informed Justice Minister Amir Ohana that she is removing her candidacy for the post.

“After about three decades of professional and dedicated work in the Prosecutor’s Office, which is so dear to me and in which I believe, a “witch hunt” is being conducted in the judicial system, of which I am an unwilling part. I was elected by the Minister of Justice for the post of Acting State Prosecutor and I am confident in my ability and my skills to fulfill this role successfully,” Ben Ari-Ginsberg wrote in a letter to Ohana.

“The attempt to turn my selection into a political matter and present it as part of a move designed to harm the rule of law, or the independence of the State Attorney’s Office – is unfortunate and contradictory to my conduct and values ​,” she continued. “The atmosphere created threatens to damage the public’s confidence in the prosecution and erode it even further. I am not prepared for further harm to be caused to the justice system at my expense, as long as I can prevent it.”

“Despite the privilege of leading the State Attorney’s Office during this sensitive period, I consider it appropriate to prioritize the good of the public and the public interest over my personal aspirations. Therefore, I take back my agreement to head the State Attorney’s Office, which is so dear to me. I will continue, as I have until now, to contribute to the system as much as I can in any role assigned to me. I thank the Minister of Justice for the trust he had in me, thank all the attorneys and many outside parties who had hoped I would navigate the ship, but at this time – the system and public trust are most important to me,” concluded Ben Ari-Ginsberg.

Ohana announced Tuesday that Ben Ari-Ginsberg had been appointed as the temporary replacement for Shai Nitzan whose term ended this month.

The appointment was met with criticism and the Movement for Quality Government in Israel petitioned the Supreme Court against it, claiming the appointment “is extremely lacking in reasonableness and is motivated solely by foreign interests, lack of integrity, and lack of good faith.”

Following the petition, the Supreme Court froze the appointment by an interim order.

Ohana questioned the naysayers’ motives, noting that Ben Ari-Ginsberg cannot do anything against the will of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, and that he has not spoken to her on any issue.

Supreme Court justice Menachem Mazuz on Wednesday froze the appointment of temporary State Prosecutor Orly Ginsberg Ben Ari.

Mazuz’s interim order, issued minutes before the ceremony marking former State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan’s retirement earlier this week and Ben Ari-Ginsberg’s ascension on Wednesday, drew criticism as an “undemocratic” move which the Supreme Court should not have made.

On Tuesday, Ohana questioned the naysayers’ motives, noting that Ginsberg Ben Ari cannot do anything against the will of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, and that he has not spoken to her any any issue.

“I haven’t spoken to Attorney Orly Ginsberg Ben-Ari or with any of those presiding over Netanyahu’s files,” he said Tuesday. “The Attorney General is the authority on Netanyahu’s files. So what’s the concern? Can she do something against his will?”

“Orly Ben Ari has more experience than Shai Nitzan did when he was appointed State Attorney,” he emphasized.

Ohana had announced Ginsberg Ben-Ari’s appointment as the country’s top prosecutor on Tuesday after Shai Nitzan left the post on Monday.

Candidates for state attorney are normally of higher seniority than Ginsberg Ben-Ari current level. Her selection to a temporary (though renewable) three-month position as state attorney drew intense criticism from the attorney general and others.