From Gush Shalom
PITY THE almond tree, especially when it is in full bloom.
The bloom of the almond is, in German, Mandelblut. That is also the name of Israel's chief legal official, called "the Legal Advisor of the Government."
The Legal Advisor is appointed by the government, but is supposed to be completely independent. He is in practice the Attorney General, the person who has the final say about indicting people, especially the prime minister. That is now his unhappy lot.
Now Mandelblit (as we pronounce his name in Hebrew) is in an impossible position. The prime minister has been officially accused by the police on two counts of bribery. Now Mandelblit must decide whether to put him on trial.
But Binyamin Netanyahu has been his benefactor for a long time, pushing his career to the top. Do you bite the hand that has fed you? Or do you shirk your duty?
An awful choice.
AVICHAI MANDELBLIT was born in Tel Aviv into a right-wing family. His father was a member of the Irgun and a rightist party stalwart. Avichai ("My Father Lives," meaning God) adopted religion at the age of 25 and put a kippah on his head.
After studying law, he served in the army as a military judge in the occupied Gaza Strip and other military jobs, until he became the chief legal officer of the army. From there it was but a short jump to the job of "government secretary," the right-hand man of the Prime Minister, who happened to be Binyamin Netanyahu.
When the office of "Legal Adviser of the Government," an official with immense power, became free, Netanyahu looked around for a candidate. And who did he see? Yea, quite right -- the good, loyal Mandelblit.
On the horizon there were looming already all kinds of criminal suspicions. The crucial position of Legal Advisor was becoming very important. So, choosing the religious, right-wing lawyer was a clever move.
How clever? Well, we will soon know.
NETANYAHU HAS not always made the cleverest choices.
Almost at the same time as he chose the Chief Legal Advisor, he also chose a new Chief of Police.
His choice was a total surprise. He did not pick one of the senior policemen, each of whom had years of experience behind him, but a completely anonymous person. And not anonymous by accident: he was the No. 2 of the internal security service (Shin Bet).
Roni Alsheich did not want the job. He wanted to be the chief of the Shin Bet. But Netanyahu almost compelled him. He promised to appoint him Shin Bet chief if he -- Netanyahu - were still Prime Minister in four years time. That was a not-so-subtle hint: you help me keep my job, and I give you the job you desire.
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