High Court of Justice (HCJ) judges decided on Thursday to freeze the proceedings of the committee for the appointment of senior officials due to concern over the close ties between two of the committee members and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which could influence their nomination of the next Israel Police commissioner.
“Since the prime minister is likely to have an interest in the identity of the police commissioner who is expected to be appointed soon, he cannot be involved in the proceedings related to the appointment of the committee that has to approve the appointment of the commissioner,” explained Justice Menachem Mazuz.
Alsheikh and Netanyahu had already locked horns over the investigations earlier. In February, the prime minister launched an unprecedented attack on Alsheikh after the police chief accused "powerful" elements involved in the investigations of trying to collect information about police officers.
The court's latest decision taken by Justices David Mintz, Ofer Grosskopf and Mazuz is also likely to have an impact on the appointment of the next IDF chief of staff.
The incumbent IDF chief, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot is set to exit his position at the end of this year.
The court’s decision was taken following a petition filed by the Tel Aviv-based Tenuah L’tohar Hamedot (Movement for Integrity) NGO regarding the members of the committee whose official name is the “Advisory Committee for the Appointment of Senior Officials in the Civil Service”. The committee is headed by retired judge Eliezer Goldberg.
According to the petition, two of the committee’s members—Iris Stark and Yaakov Nagel—are close associates of the prime minister and could therefore not be permitted to take part in the nomination process, particularly of the police chief, who is responsible for leading criminal investigations against Netanyahu.
Mazuz noted that the the committee’s job is to examine the integrity and ethics of the candidates running for Israel’s most important positions.
“This is not an empty role. In the past, there have been complaints about candidates for the commissioner … Public representatives must be people who don’t have an affiliation or obligation to the government and over whom the government has no influence,” Mazuz said.
“Throughout the years, in my experience, ministers and prime ministers who were being investigated excused themselves, on the instruction of the attorney general, from involvement in the appointment that was related to the fact that they were under investigation,” he continued. “That was a clear convention for the government, the prime minister and the justice system.”