Government approves appointment of Israel’s Attorney General

February 8, 2022 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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The Israeli Cabinet has approved the appointment of attorney Gali Baharav-Miara as Israel’s next Attorney General, the first woman to hold the important position.

The government unanimously voted in favour of Baharav-Miara, who was favoured by Minister of Justice Gideon Sa’ar to replace former AG Avichai Mandelblit, despite the fact that there were two other candidates.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated that the Attorney General “is one of the most important and sensitive appointments in the public service, and at this time, given the erosion of public confidence in law enforcement, there is an important opportunity here to maintain what needs to be maintained and to correct what needs to be corrected.”

Baharav-Miara enters office as the county is dealing with one of the most dangerous scandals since its establishment and following reports that the police used the Pegasus spyware program, to conducted illegal phishing expeditions on a mass scale against senior officials and public figures.

Bennett added that Israel needs “a good, strong and serious establishment that the public will trust. Moreover, the basic role of the attorney general is to assist the government in implementing its policy in the framework of the confines of the law. The government is here to govern, to function, to work for the benefit of the citizens of the state and to take the country forward.”

Regarding the Pegasus affair, Bennett stated that the reports “apparently describe a very grave situation that is unacceptable in a democracy. These cyber tools were designed to fight terrorism and serious crime, not be used against citizens. We will see to a transparent, in-depth and quick inquiry because all of us – citizens of the State of Israel, government ministers and all establishments – deserve answers.”

Earlier in the day, Public Security Minister Omer Barlev announced that he has decided to establish a government commission of inquiry to investigate the “violation of civil rights,” after the Calcalist daily revealed that the police had spied on a number of public figures and officials in an apparent illegal mass phishing expedition.

According to a report by the Israeli Calcalist financial daily, the Israel Police uses NSO’s Pegasus spyware to remotely hack into the phones of Israeli citizens without proper search or tapping orders.

According to the report, NSO’s Pegasus system was purchased by the police in December 2013, during the tenure of Commissioner Yohanan Danino, and became operational during the period of the subsequent commissioner, Roni Alsheikh.

The tools were used against key witnesses in former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial, and Calcalist’s latest publication shows that police targeted protest activists, executives of giant corporations, mayors, directors of ministries, and even Netanyahu’s relatives, without the required legal approval.

Bar-Lev declared that “the examination committee will examine in-depth and all the allegations.”

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