JERUSALEM (Jan. 25)
Itamar Rabinovich’s posting as Israel’s next ambassador to the United States might be delayed because of a continuing court challenge initiated by the political opposition.
In a surprise development Monday, Israel’s High Court of Justice declined to dismiss two separate appeals against his appointment filed by Knesset members Gonen Segev of the right-wing Tsomet party and Michael Eitan of Likud.
Rabinovich, who was expected to take up his post Feb. 5, ran into problems earlier this month when it was revealed that the Hebrew University professor may have mishandled tax payments for income he earned in the United States.
Segev argued in his complaint to the High Court that the Cabinet appointment should be reversed since the ministers voted on Rabinovich’s appointment without being aware of the tax issues.
The Cabinet tried to get around this problem last week by voting on the appointment a second time and reconfirming Rabinovich.
However, in its move Monday, the High Court refused to dismiss Segev’s petition, delaying a final ruling and leaving in place a temporary order preventing Rabinovich from taking office.
The court also delayed a ruling on Eitan’s petition, which asked the court to demand an investigation of additional foreign bank accounts Rabinovich is alleged to hold.
The court session revealed new details on the affair when the government’s lawyer, Uzi Vogelman, confirmed that income tax authorities in Israel had not independently investigated Rabinovich’s income.
The state relied on Rabinovich’s own testimony regarding a bank account the historian said he opened in the United States when he was working there.
The government argued that any tax violations Rabinovich may have committed still would not constitute a serious enough reason to bar him from serving as Israel’s ambassador in the United States.