Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Stop! Police!

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter has made a very odd decision. After the findings of a special investigative commission regarding police misconduct and possible corruption led to the resignation of Israel's chief of police, Dicther announced the nomination of Yaakov Ganot, the current head of the prison service and a former defendant in a corruption trial. 13 years ago Ganot, then the head of the northern police district, was acquitted of criminal charges such as bribery, but the supreme court found he acted unethically, in a way unbecoming of a senior police officer. He was suspended for 3 years and later returned to the police.

This is a bad appointment. The public committee in charge of evaluating such nominations (which is not a parliamentary committee, but rather one headed by former supreme court justice Yaakov Tirkel) should reject Ganot. If it doesn't, the government should reject him. After Police Chief Karadi resigned for much less than what Ganot did, and when the police is in need of deep reforms, including ethical ones, a clean figure needs to be appointed.

Sure, Ganot is said to be excellent at getting things done. But if he's so good why was he Dichter's fifth or sixth choice? Isn't there anyone who is both highly qualified and corruption-free?

The Supreme Court has been asked to bar this nomination. I hope it does not do so. Since he was acquitted, his disqualification is moral and ethical, not legal. For that reason, it is the Tirkel Commission and the government which should not allow Ganot's appointment, not the court.

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