Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whispering in a cabinet meeting on July 23, 2018.
(photo credit: ALEX KOLOMOISKY / POOL)
The chief state prosecutor in the public corruption cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected on Tuesday Zionist Union MK Revital Swid’s suggestion that the state should decide Cases 1000 and 2000 immediately, even if Case 4000 waits until later.
While Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit has repeatedly made it clear that he thinks it is important to decide all three Netanyahu probes at the same time, her statement at the Israel Bar Association Conference in Tel Aviv was the first time that Liat Ben Ari, who runs the cases, was pressed to take a public position.
Swid noted that Cases 1000 and 2000 are more than two years old and that the police already recommended in February that the prosecution indict Netanyahu for bribery in those cases – even before the prime minister became a suspect in Case 4000
She said that she unequivocally believes that the decisions regarding the prime minister’s probes are being dragged out, though she implied that it could be merely because of inertia and not because of a corrupt motive.
Ben Ari responded, “it is easy to say ‘decide Cases 1000 and 2000 separately.’ But Case 4000
has major significance. The cases are connected to each other. We will file recommendations to the attorney-general on all of the cases. We are working day in and day out – this is not simple.”
She added that both the factual and legal issues involved in the corruption cases are complex, implying that without a comprehensive review there was no obvious conclusion from the outset.
Deputy Attorney-General Raz Nizri backed Ben Ari pointing out that the signing of a plea bargain with Nir Hefetz in recent months completely changed the picture and that the idea of separate decisions in the cases ignores that new picture.
Israeli PM Netanyahu's wife, Sara Netanyahu, charged with fraud, June 21, 2018 (Reuters)
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Swid hit back that Hefetz only added more ammunition against Netanyahu, but that he had not done anything which could have changed the police’s recommendations to indict the prime minister in Cases 1000 and 2000 to a recommendation to close the case.
Moreover, Swid demanded that the state’s decision regarding Netanyahu be made before the next election so that the public would know where things stand when they voted.
Ben Ari responded that, “You are asking for something that we cannot do,” returning to her refrain that fully reviewing the cases’ evidence and their impacts on each other was the only way to get to the truth.
In addition, Ben Ari publicly denied reports that Mandelblit had annoyed her with moving slowly on her requests to interview witnesses, which in turn dragged out the time for finishing the probes.
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