Mandelblit to fast-track decision on Netanyahu indictment

Previous reports that Mandelblit would make a final decision in December before State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan steps down, these sources said, were not true.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
September 28, 2019 23:01
1 minute read.
PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU consults with Avichai Mandelblit.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU consults with Avichai Mandelblit.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s legal battle will move up a notch on Wednesday immediately after Rosh Hashanah, when his attorneys appear for his long-anticipated hearing with Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit.

Netanyahu’s battery of lawyers will try to convince Mandelblit to cancel the planned indictment of the prime minister on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, in the three cases known as 1000, 2000 and 4000, or at the very least to lessen the severity of the charges and convince the attorney-general to drop the bribery charge, the most severe of the suspicions.

Mandelblit’s office is gearing up for the hearing and for the possibility that it will extend into Thursday as well. According to sources close to Mandelblit, the attorney-general plans to close himself off in the Justice Ministry with the approximately 20 prosecutors who have worked on the case with the aim of making a final decision on the indictment by the end of October or possibly the beginning of November.

Previous reports that Mandelblit would make a final decision in December before State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan steps down were not true, these sources said. “He will move fast,” said one person familiar with the case.

One possibility that Mandelblit and Justice Ministry officials are preparing for is that Netanyahu’s lawyers will present seemingly new evidence – not seen until now – as part of an effort to postpone the attorney-general’s decision and force him to ask the police to reopen some part of the investigation.

Officials familiar with the cases against the prime minister have said that it was difficult to imagine a significant delay due to new evidence since the case has been thoroughly reviewed – numerous times – by the country’s most senior prosecutors led by Liat Ben-Ari, the main prosecutor who has accompanied the police throughout the investigation.

Nevertheless, a postponement even if just by a few weeks to a couple of months could help Netanyahu if Israel goes to a new election. Netanyahu, according to reports, is expected to return the mandate of forming a coalition to President Reuven Rivlin as early this week even, though he still has more than three weeks left to negotiate with other lists elected to the Knesset.


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