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Report: AG to tell court Netanyahu is in violation of conflict of interest agreement

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara on Sunday is expected to tell the High Court of Justice that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in violation of a conflict of interest agreement barring him from involvement in the government’s judicial overhaul plans, according to a Friday report.

Baharav-Miara is expected to submit her opinion as judges are set to hear a petition claiming Netanyahu’s ongoing violation of the deal that allows him to remain in office while on trial necessitates his removal from office.

The conflict of interest agreement prohibits Netanyahu from involving himself in most matters pertaining to the judiciary, including many of the legislative changes his government has been advancing, due to his ongoing trial.

According to the Channel 13 report, the Justice Ministry has yet to formulate a course of action on the premier’s alleged breach of the deal.

The prime minister has become increasingly concerned that Baharav-Miara would seek to have him removed after she stated in March that he was in violation of his conflict of interest agreement. She did so at the time after he declared that he was involving himself in the overhaul.

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Baharav-Miara has asked the court to strike down the recusal law, a piece of legislation passed in March that shields the premier from being ordered by courts or the attorney general to step down. But she has also indicated she is not considering ordering the prime minister to recuse himself.

The network also reported that as more and more volatile cases related to the prime minister and the judicial overhaul arrive at the High Court’s door, police have warned of a rise in incitement and threats on social media against Baharav-Miara and Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut.

It said security for Supreme Court judges has been increased in light of those threats.

File: Supreme Court President Esther Hayut during a hearing of petitions against the so-called ‘Tiberias law’ at the High Court in Jerusalem on July 30, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The coalition passed the recusal law to ensure that Netanyahu, who is on trial on multiple counts of alleged corruption, will not be ordered to step down due to any alleged violation of the conflict of interest agreement he signed in 2020.

The High Court placed an injunction on the law, which is part of Israel’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws, in August, and will hear petitions against it on September 28.

According to Channel 13 Wednesday, Netanyahu demanded that the recusal law remain in effect under any circumstances in a recently floated — albeit thus far rejected — compromise plan from the President’s Residence regarding the overhaul.

Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana on Wednesday said at a press conference the overturning of a Basic Law could “plunge us into the abyss” and that the Knesset “won’t submissively accept its trampling,” suggesting a potential ruling of the sort may be ignored by the coalition. Netanyahu later appeared to back his statements.

Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.