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Israel’s Attorney General tells Netanyahu to steer clear of judicial overhaul

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Jerusalem, Israel | Xinhua | Israel’s Attorney General has told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a letter made public Thursday that he must refrain from involvement in the government’s proposed judicial reforms due to a possible conflict of interest with his ongoing corruption trial.

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara states in the letter that Netanyahu, as prime minister, “must avoid involvement in initiatives related to the legal system.”

She stressed that Netanyahu must also not give “direct or indirect” instructions to others to advance the plan, including “informal consultations.”

The Attorney General expressed concern that there is “a reasonable risk” that Netanyahu’s involvement would put him in a conflict of interest in his ongoing criminal trial over charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Netanyahu is expected “to benefit” from the proposed reforms to weaken the judiciary, Baharav-Miara said in the letter.

Israel’s extreme-right and ultra-religious government, sworn-in in late December, has made the overhaul of the legal system a central part of its agenda. It has been pushing ahead with measures to weaken the power of the Supreme Court and undermine the judicial oversight over the work and policymaking of ministers. The plan has faced widespread criticism and opposition.

Netanyahu’s trial, the first of a sitting prime minister in Israel, was opened in May 2020. Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving leader, rejects the charges as part of “a witch hunt” against him.

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