Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit.
(photo credit: EMIL SALMAN/HAARETZ/MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
On Sunday, the prime minister’s defense team refused to accept an envelop of evidence for Netanyahu’s pre-indictment hearing.
The attorney-general’s office tried to deliver materials from the corruption investigations regarding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the prime minister’s legal defense team, but the team refused to accept them, according to a report in The Jerusalem Post’s sister newspaper Maariv.
This was despite the fact that the office attached a letter offering to postpone the date by which Netanyahu must coordinate the hearing.
Netanyahu is allowed, but not required, to attend a pre-indictment hearing, during which he and his legal team may contest the evidence presented against him by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit. In the aforementioned letter, the attorney-general’s office offered to give Netanyahu until May 20 to set a date for the hearing.
Mandelblit is adamant that the hearing be held no later than July 10. The new deadline is to give the lawyers time to agree to the date or choose a different route – such as foregoing the hearing altogether.
The refusal by the defense to receive the materials has raised eyebrows in Israel, and the move was interpreted as extreme stonewalling by Netanyahu of the investigations against him.
However, the defense team charged that the official who brought the materials was instructed by the attorney-general’s office to deliver them to Netanyahu’s lawyer Navot Tel Tzur in person. When he realized Tzur was not present in his office at the time, the official left and took the materials with him.
Netanyahu’s lawyers castigated the attorney-general’s office for releasing a statement to the media that implied that Netanyahu refused to receive the materials outright.
Mandelblit decided to announce in February that he would likely indict Netanyahu on bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges, subject to the pre-indictment hearing.