Tuesday will be Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit’s last day in office, and on Sunday, he attended his final cabinet meeting, after six years in his position. During the meeting, Mandelblit shared an insight he reached over the years, saying, “It is the government’s responsibility to ensure the rule of law,” in an apparent reference to what he perceived as attempts to subvert the rule of law during the term of the former Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Members of the government are obligated to protect the rule of law as part of their obligation to the public,” Mandelblit added. “They must place the interests of the state foremost, before any political or personal interests. A government that weakens the rule of law or, G-d forbid, acts against it, harms the public interest.”
Mandelblit was even more pointed as he noted, “Certain people have attempted to present harm done to the rule of law as an ideological process under the banner of ‘governance,’ but time after time we have seen that what really lay behind such processes was simply the wish to advance personal interests – while at the same time severely damaging the fundamental principle of being true to the public interest.
“The rule of law is not something particular to the attorney-general,” he added. “It is a basic component of any democratic country and one which the government is obligated to protect, for the sake of its citizens and in the public interest. In one speech, I called it ‘legal security’ – for it is a form of protection for the nation, just like military security or health security or economic security and so forth.”
Mandelblit then referred to his successor, saying, “In a short while, I hope, a new attorney-general will be appointed to serve after me, and I know that he will inherit a wonderful system that will help him to carry out his role in all areas.”
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett then spoke a few words, saying, “Today we are taking our leave of Attorney-General Mandelblit. There has barely been a single day when the State of Israel has not faced challenges in the area of international law. Our enemies use every tool available against us. The role which you played to protect the State of Israel, its soldiers and citizens, on the international stage, has been incredibly significant and as such we owe you a great debt of gratitude. In the name of the government, we thank you, Avichai, for many long years of devoted service to the State of Israel.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz also paid tribute to Mandelblit, writing on Facebook, “I know very well how much he contributed to the security of the State of Israel and to protecting it as a democracy. In the most dramatic moments of the State, when there were those who attempted to shake its democratic foundations, Avichai was there.”
Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar also paid his respects to Mandelblit, writing on Twitter, “During historic times, Dr. Avichai Mandelblit played a crucial role in preserving the rule of law and protecting Israeli democracy. He fulfilled his role while enduring constant and unrestrained attacks, but he stuck to the truth. When the dust settles, it is this that will be remembered.”