Attorney General: The public trusts me

As the Constitution Committee calls for more transparency in the Justice Ministry, AG Mandelblit hits back.

Uzi Baruch ,

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The Constitution Committee held a discussion today, arguing over the role of the Attorney General in government.

MK Nissan Slominsky opened the discussion, with a demand to determine legally the role of the Attorney General, and to divide the work between the job of the Attorney General, and the job of the Prosecutor General.

"We rely on the Attorney General to fulfill his duties, and to safely navigate the ship during these turbulent times. However, the time has come to legally define his responsibilities, and to define his role," announced Slominsky.

"As such, we need to split the job of the Attorney General into two, and divide between the Attorney General and the Prosecutor General - positions which sometimes cross paths."

Slominsky added, "We need to establish clear laws and to limit the actions of the legal advisors in various ministries, whom sometimes override the ministers, to the point where they cannot work as they need."

The Attorney General, Dr. Avichai Mandelblit, was also privy to this discussion. He called for legal advisors to act with caution, and to help the elected officials complete their goals.

"The legal advisors of each ministry must act with modesty," affirmed Mandelblit. "We don't run the country. We need to assist the elected official."

Mandelblit also added, "The Attorney General doesn't run the Justice Ministry. The Minister decides the policy, and the legal advisor decides on how to enforce it."

"My only power is public trust I gain through my work. That trust is earned through...speed and efficiency. Taking care of something after years, doesn't demonstrates trustworthiness and efficiency. And never at the expense of professionalism. I am responsible for preserving both the rights of the investigated, as well as human rights."

Regarding his double-role of advisor and prosecutor, the Attorney General commented, "My view is that the current situation in this country, is different from the global situation, where the appointment [of the Attorney General] is a political one. Here, it is a professional appointment, which protects us from [the problems born of] mixing roles. There is a downside to this: I sit with the Prime Minister in work meetings with cardinal questions...yet we don't discuss the investigation [I'm conducting on him]. The people need to trust both me and the Prime Minister to make this division, and it's not easy. I try not to come to any extraneous Cabinet meetings because of that."

In his opinion, there is a lot of confusion among the general public between an examination and an investigation. "When there is a real suspicion of wrongdoing, and there is evidence, which I assemble, usually from the police, it obligates me to open an investigation. It doesn't matter who it's about."

Yet, "We need to be very careful. There are heavy consequences when we're talking about a minister or a prime minister. In my opinion, 'strong suspicion' is the key," explained the Attorney General.

When the MKs pressed him about the ongoing investigation into the Prime Minister, Mandelblit would not break. "The public has the right to know. However, we must conduct the investigation properly...The Prime Minister doesn't know anything about it...At the moment, an initial examination is being conducted."