Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced Tuesday evening that he will nominate Amit Aisman to serve as Israel’s next state prosecutor.
The position has been largely vacant since December 2019, when Shai Nitzan stepped down. Nitzan’s replacement has been delayed amid the political turmoil in Israel over the past two years. In November, a selections committee nominated Aisman, but the confirmation process was held up amid political squabbles and protests from female activist groups.
Sa’ar said Tuesday that he will accept the nomination of the previous selections committee and bring his appointment to the government for approval. The five-member committee chaired by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said that Aisman, who beat out nine other candidates, came highly recommended by senior figures in the justice system.
“The appointment of the state prosecutor is essential for the State Prosecutor’s Office and its proper functioning, and therefore I decided to bring the appointment to the approval of the government without delay,” Sa’ar said on Tuesday.
Some of the past opposition to Aisman stemmed from past sexist and sexually-explicit comments to female subordinates that he made while serving as the Haifa district prosecutor. At the time, he received a warning as part of internal disciplinary proceedings. In December, Aisman apologized for his comments and said they do not represent him.
“As someone who has been a public servant for about 30 years, I believe my duty goes beyond accepting responsibility, and requires public accountability, alongside a public and direct apology for the crude remarks. [These actions] don’t characterize my conduct and my moral belief, which highlights the unwavering upholding of human dignity,” he wrote in a Haaretz op-ed.
“Both remarks made by me are inappropriate and unacceptable. They had and have no place in any discourse, definitely not in the discourse between a manager and employees in any workplace, not to mention [within] the Justice Ministry,” he added. “I fully understand the criticism made toward me in this context, and I accept full responsibility. These are slips that haven’t repeated themselves since, and will not repeat themselves in the future.”
The selections committee last year said they took his comments into account when making its decision.
“The committee was persuaded that these remarks, which were made many years ago, do not characterize Aisman’s work and his behavior,” the committee said at the time. The comments, it found, do not amount to a “defect that prevents him from serving as state attorney.”
However, the Israel Women’s Network called the selection “improper” last year.
Aisman’s appointment to “such an important position as the state prosecutor, and the attempts to make light of his blatantly sexual remarks in order to legitimize the choice is improper,” the women’s rights lobby said.
Aisman took over the Haifa district in 2010, then, in 2015, was transferred to another branch of the state prosecution, before returning to head the Haifa branch in June 2017.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.