Meir Shitrit leaves AG selection panel

Former Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit resigned from the powerful panel to select the next Attorney General on Monday following the return of previous allegations of sexual harassment against him to headlines.

The government had just approved Sheetrit as the fifth and final member of the panel last week, and it was unclear how long his resignation would delay its deliberations and progress.

He resigned after five cabinet ministers from the Labor and Meretz parties and one from Yesh Atid voted against his appointment and an ongoing public campaign against him by women’s empowerment groups.

Sheetrit was never criminally investigated, something that Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar presented as a key factor for having named him and for his disappointment at the resignation.

However, reports have indicated that Sheetrit signed an agreement years ago with a former employee who paid her hundreds of thousands of shekels to keep quiet and that her refusal to testify was what ended the criminal investigation against her.

Meir Sheetrit (credit: MIIAM ALSTER)

The Executive Director of the Association for the Support of Victims of Sexual Assault, Orit Sulitzeanu, said: “The appointment of Sheetrit to the selection panel of the Attorney General was embarrassing and caused a serious stench.”

He added that Sa’ar needed to be more careful in naming people who don’t have a cloud of ethical issues looming over them, like Sheetrit, who allegedly paid his former employee to keep her quiet.

Current Attorney General Avi Mandelblit will be replaced on February 1 by the committee headed by former Conservative Chief Justice Asher Grunis, which includes Conservative New Hope MP Zvi Hauser.

The other two members of the panel are the representative of the Israel Bar Association, Tami Olman, and the academic representative, Ron Shapira. Olman is not known for being particularly conservative and has fought to defend the judiciary from attacks by former justice minister Amir Ohana.

But she and Shapira won’t be able to topple the conservative majority Sa’ar is expected to secure with Sheetrit’s replacement.

The overall thrust of the committee is very conservative, such that Sa’ar can fulfill his dream of dividing the Attorney General’s powers between two different figures, a chief prosecutor and a chief legal adviser, even without a lawyer. new Knesset law.

In any case, Sa’ar has made it clear that he will likely only appoint a candidate who supports the division of roles.

Replacing Sheetrit requires another round of government approval and the list of alternates is short, as the specific position must be a former justice minister or former attorney general.

Sa’ar is unlikely to appoint most of the former attorneys general because nearly all oppose his decision to split the attorney general’s office.

Former Justice Minister Daniel Friedman is one of the prominent prospects who has called for such a measure for nearly two decades.

With only 10 weeks remaining in Mandelblit’s tenure, any significant delay in starting the panel could affect whether there is an agreed and fully vetted finalist on time.

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