MKs from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party slammed Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit after he decided to bar law enforcement officials from a Knesset committee discussion about a claim made by the Netanyahu couple's lawyers earlier this week, contending that the officer who presided over a string of corruption investigations against them was motivated by revenge.
The chairman of the Knesset's Internal Affairs Committee, MK Yoav Kish (Likud), decided to postpone the committee’s meeting on the sexual abuse complaints against former Lahav 433 commander Dep. Comm. Roni Ritman, and said he would establish an inquiry committee to investigate the Netanyahu couple's claims.
Without mentioning the attorney general by name, Kish attacked Mandelblit’s stance, saying that officials charged with enforcing the law were trying to cancel the committee meeting, arguing that it would harm an ongoing investigation "despite my explicit view that it will not."
"I won't lend a hand to this silencing," Kish went on to say, noting the Knesset has an obligation to oversee law enforcement procedures even in this case. “The prime minister has the right, as anyone else, to an investigation free of conflicts of interest.”
The committee chairman said Mandelblit’s decision shows lack of respect towards the Knesset, and he intends to promote legislation that mandates penalties for officials who refuse a summons to Knesset committees.
MK Amir Ohana (Likud) had no reservations and issued a more direct criticism. “The attorney general went too far, the Knesset is the public and the AG is a public servant,” Ohana wrote on Twitter. “By not sending his officials to the meeting, he hurt the public and himself. Until he fixes this matter with MK Kish, I will not allow him or his representatives to speak at my committee, and I call on all committee chairs to do the same.”
MK Revital Swid (Zionist Union) announced earlier that she would boycott the meeting. “The committee chair is not supposed to be the mercenary of the prime minister who is accused of crimes, nor use his parliamentary powers to sway the court case. This sets a dangerous precedent of interference in criminal investigations of politicians. It is no coincidence that the attorney general and the Knesset’s legal adviser strongly oppose him,” she said of Kish.
Mandelblit announced earlier that representatives of the State Attorney's Office, the Israel Police and the Police Investigation Unit from attending the committee meetings, arguing that it could have a negative impact on the investigations.
The meeting was scheduled after attorneys for Netanyahu asked the attorney general on Tuesday to reconsider the credibility of investigations conducted against them during Ritman's tenure as Lahav 433 commander, arguing that they may have been motivated by a personal vendetta against the family.