Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit.
(photo credit: EMIL SALMAN/HAARETZ/MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit will publicize his leaning to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for public corruption by February despite election season, Channel 10 reported Wednesday night.
Channel 10 also confirmed previous Jerusalem Post reports that Case 4000 (the “Bezeq-Walla Affair”) is the strongest case; that Mandelblit will likely go after Netanyahu for breach of trust, but not bribery, in Case 1000 (the “Illegal Gifts Affair”); and that Case 2000 (the “Yediot Ahronot-Israel Hayom Affair”) may still be closed entirely.
In addition, the report said that Mandelblit and his team have finished deliberations over Case 1000, and that they are moving at a pace of around a week for each case to finish deliberations.
On Tuesday night, Mandelblit’s spokesman confirmed the Hadashot News report that Mandelblit met last week to consult with a mix of former attorneys-general, Supreme Court justices and head state attorneys: Yehuda Weinstein, Meir Shamgar, Aharon Barak, Moshe Lador, Elyakim Rubinstein, Dorit Beinisch, Edna Arbel, Gavriel Bach and Zvi Zamir.
According to Hadashot, all those present unanimously said that the decision must be published pre-election, and Mandelblit agreed with them.
Netanyahu’s lawyers slammed the possibility of a pre-election decision as an injustice.
They responded to the report saying that if Mandelblit issues a decision pre-election, “it would cause injustice to the will of voters and gravely harm the democratic process.”
They added that many times, attorneys-general had decided to drop charges after an initial announcement, as a result of the special hearing given to ministers prior to the final indictment decision when they are able to point out holes in the case against them.
Though at an earlier point there were indications to the Post that Mandelblit wanted to avoid exactly this scenario, later indications were that he felt the timing of elections was chosen in a way that took him for granted – and that pushing off the decision would be interpreted as cowing in the face of political pressure.
Despite all that, Mandelblit’s spokesman said on Tuesday that the meeting with top officials had been scheduled far in advance and had become an annual event, with this being the second meeting.
He also said that Mandelblit had not raised the question of the timing of his decision, but did tell those present that “the process of making decisions in cases would continue as is standard, despite the dissolution of the Knesset.”
Even if Netanyahu wins reelection as currently expected, a final decision to indict Netanyahu 6-12 months later could lead to his forced resignation, though the question might need to be decided by the High Court of Justice.
Netanyahu himself has said that the law does not require him to resign before a final and unappealable conviction, and many scholars support his argument.