Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit.
(photo credit: EMIL SALMAN/HAARETZ/MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attacked Avichai Mandelblit’s decision to be interviewed by Channel 12 on Saturday night, claiming that Mandelblit’s choice was “unprecedented in the history of Israeli justice,” while hours later, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked strongly backed the Attorney-General saying that she was glad he was the one to handle the fateful decision of Netanyahu’s corruption case.
“I work with Avichai Mandelblit daily... he is fair, honorable and professional,” Shaked said on Sunday night. “I am happy it is him if someone needs to make this hard decision. I completely trust his honesty.”
Mandelblit gave a rare on-record interview, telling Channel 12 News that the election will not cause a delay in his decision on Netanyahu’s corruption cases.
Although Mandelblit did not and has not committed to announcing his decision before Election Day, his statements to Channel 12 and others make it clear that this is his intent.
“The choice to cooperate with such a plan, at such a time, is unprecedented in the history of Israeli justice and raises serious questions,” Netanyahu said. “I have serious things to say about what we saw, and I’ll say them upon my return from my diplomatic trip to Chad.”
He added that “even Ha’aretz wrote that this smacks of a witch hunt.”
Netanyahu said that for more than one year the police did not investigate actual offenses, but rather looked for offenses against him.
In contrast, the Channel 12 report indicated that Mandelblit had pressed police to focus on the largest issues they were probing, and not to get weighed down in following every possible criminal lead.
During his interview, the attorney-general refused to respond to any questions about Netanyahu and the pressure that the prime minister has exerted on him not to decide on the case before the elections.
Despite Mandelblit’s withholding his decision, Coalition chairman David Amsalem called Mandelblit’s statements “illegitimate.”
“There is a plot here,” Amsalem sad. “Who agrees to be interviewed? Look at what he says there, it’s all gossip.”
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