PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU consults with Avichai Mandelblit..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit has asked the police to review whether new evidence obtained in Case 4000 may strengthen Cases 1000 and 2000 against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
The result may be that the prime minister may ultimately be in greater legal jeopardy, but will benefit from a delay of the corruption investigations in which he is a suspect – possibly even into 2019.
Case 4000 is the Bezeq-Walla Affair, Case 2000 is the Yediot Aharonot-Israel Hayom Affair and Case 1000 is the Illegal Gifts Affair.
Both Cases 4000 and 2000 involve allegations of the prime minister seeking to bribe Walla and Yediot Aharonot to get more positive media coverage.
However, whereas Mandelblit’s office had indicated to The Jerusalem Post in early 2017 that Case 2000 might be a weaker case, his opinion may have since shifted.
Last week, former state attorney Moshe Lador said that Case 4000 substantially strengthens Case 2000’s allegations by showing that Netanyahu has a pattern of media bribery.
In early March, former top Netanyahu adviser Nir Hefetz cut a plea deal with the prosecution to turn state’s witness against Netanyahu mainly in Case 4000, but also adding details for Cases 1000 and 2000.
This followed other blows to the prime minister when two other former top aides, Shlomo Filber and Ari Harow, also turned state’s witness – Filber in Case 4000, and Harow in Cases 1000 and 2000.
However, the police had already sent all evidence and their recommendations to indict Netanyahu for bribery in both cases to Mandelblit in February.
Eventually, it was realized that even if the police believed that there was sufficient evidence to convict Netanyahu in Cases 1000 and 2000 before Case 4000 blew up and before Hefetz came onboard to help the prosecution, that the smart and comprehensive move was to have the police add Hefetz’s allegations against Netanyahu to all of the cases.
Effectively, this means that Mandelblit has ceased all work on Cases 1000 and 2000 until the police have finished adding the new evidence.
Sources also indicated that this means that most likely Mandelblit will decide whether to pursue indictments in Cases 1000, 2000 and 4000 all at once.
Based on prior indications from the prosecution that decision on Cases 1000 and 2000 were not likely soon, the added delay likely means that Mandelblit will not hand down any decision on any of the cases this year.
Even once Mandelblit makes an initial decision regarding the cases, Netanyahu has a right to a pre-indictment hearing.
Mandelblit made an initial decision to likely indict Sara Netanyahu for public corruption last September, and has still not made a final decision following her pre-indictment hearing.
This means that there is no certainty that Mandelblit will reach a final decision on indictments regarding Netanyahu’s three cases before even the latest date for the next national election – November 2019.
At the same time, there are clear indications that the new evidence and the many state’s witnesses against Netanyahu in Case 4000 have worsened his legal situation in all of the cases.