Attorney General: Gov't undermining legal watchdogs

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara at the Bar Association conference  credit: Israel Bar Association spokesperson
Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara at the Bar Association conference credit: Israel Bar Association spokesperson

Gali Baharav-Miara told the Bar Association conference that checks and balances on government were being dismantled surreptitiously.

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara spoke today at the Israel Bar Association conference in Eilat, and commented on the actions of the government against ministries’ legal advisers. "The government of Israel sought to keep the watchdogs away from events, to nullify the ability of the legal advisers to act as brakes on government power and preserve the rule of law. The attempt to neutralize the brakes on government power not by legislation but by dismantling proper, normal work procedures can be called a ‘silent reform,’, ‘the reform hidden from the eye.’ Our task is to direct a searchlight at this hidden phenomenon, because the economic, social, security and democratic price of the absence of the rule of law is heavy."

The attorney general said that that what was happening was a continuation of the judicial overhaul program through the surreptitious changes. "The judicial overhaul was intended to remove checks and balances from the power of government, to damage the existing guarantees of the rule of law and proper administration.

"As part of the battle against politicization of public systems, populist attacks on public servants must be unreservedly condemned. Public servants, and certainly the watchdogs, owe a fiduciary duty to the public, and to the public only. The fight against politicization of the public service lies at the root of our stance that the national duty and non-political character of the Israel Police should be anchored in law," Baharav-Miara said.

On the powers granted to Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir, the attorney general said, "The minister responsible for the police on behalf of the government is not a super-police commissioner. The limits of his authority need to be delineated and fenced. In particular, he may not intervene in operational activities of the police and in concrete decisions. The amendment to the Police Ordinance does not stipulate the essential condition that political intervention in the operation of police powers is illegal. Therefore our stance, as we presented it to the High Court of Justice, is that the amendment to the Police Ordinance does not meet the test of constitutionality, and at least some of its sections should be struck down."

Baharav-Miara attacked the decision by the International Court of Justice in The Hague calling for an end to Israel’s military operation in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. "We are not deterred from bringing the full force of the law to bear on anyone, even the heads of the army and the state. We are examining and will examine suspicions of illegal actions. We don’t need external help. The army is currently carrying out investigations. I should mention that the State Attorney’s Office is making progress on the criminal level with the treatment of illegitimate statements concerning the war," Baharav-Miara said, calling the International Court of Justice’s decision "outrageous".

On the application by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague for arrest warrants against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, along with the leaders of Hamas, Baharav-Miara said, "The comparison between our political leadership and the arch-murderers of Hamas is a moral eclipse."

"The Israel Defense Force," she said, "is committed to fighting lawfully. This is a value rooted in our system of laws. Israel’s war is always against Hamas and the terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, not against the residents. The army operates according to the principle of ‘the purity of arms.’ This is not weakness, but the moral strength of a Jewish and democratic state."

Military Advocate General Major General Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi, who also spoke at the conference, said that the Military Criminal Investigation Division was investigating about 70 cases of suspicion of breach of the laws of war. "These suspicions are being examined thoroughly and determinedly, as part of our deep commitment to the law. Among these investigations are the claim raised about conditions under which prisoners are being held at Sde Teiman, and the deaths of detainees in the IDF’s charge, as well as incidents in which non-combatants have been killed in operations, and incidents of violence and property offences and looting."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on May 27, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara at the Bar Association conference  credit: Israel Bar Association spokesperson
Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara at the Bar Association conference credit: Israel Bar Association spokesperson
Twitter Facebook Linkedin RSS Newsletters גלובס Israel Business Conference 2018