Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelblit (R) during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MENAHEM KAHANA / REUTERS)
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit sought to turn the tables on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, firing off a letter to his lawyers that threatened to cancel his pre-indictment hearing if they do not schedule it soon.
On February 28, Mandelblit announced his intent to indict Netanyahu for bribery subject to that hearing.
According to Mandelblit, he and Netanyahu’s lawyers reached a deal on March 11, he would delay release of the case file regarding the prime minister until after the elections, on condition that it would not delay the case’s progress.
To ensure that progress, he set July 10 as the latest date by which to start Netanyahu’s pre-indictment hearings.
Since the election, Netanyahu’s lawyers have refused to pick up the case file from the state prosecution, saying they would not do so until the question of their fee is resolved.
Netanyahu's lawyers are in an ongoing dispute with a State Comptroller committee about whether Netanyahu’s cousin, tycoon Natan Milikovsky, can pay his legal bills in the public corruption cases.
Netanyahu’s lawyers have said that since they have been unable to pick up the case file without their attorneys’ fees issues resolved, Mandelblit will need to postpone the July 10 hearing date by several months so that they have more time to prepare.
In his letter on Sunday, Mandelblit made it clear that their attorneys’ fees was an internal issue between them and Netanyahu, and does not concern the state prosecution.
One variable in the dispute is whether Netanyahu’s lawyers will ask the High Court of Justice to intervene to compel Mandelblit to give them more time.
However, the last time Netanyahu’s lawyers challenged Mandelblit before the High Court, trying to delay his announcement (regarding an intention to indict Netanyahu) until after the election, High Court Justice Noam Sohlberg tossed their request in a matter of hours,
This was noteworthy, since Sohlberg is viewed as among the most right-wing friendly justices.