(photo credit: NIR KEIDAR)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyer Amit Hadad released a public video on Monday asking Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to reconsider the date of his client’s pre-indictment hearing for likely bribery charges.
The attorney-general had rejected on Thursday the prime minister’s request for a second postponement.
Although rumors circulated that the prime minister may petition the High Court of Justice to try to force Mandelblit to grant the second postponement, Hadad did not mention this.
Rather, he sent a mixed message saying that Netanyahu would come to the scheduled October 2-3 hearing date if necessary, while in parallel pushing again for Mandelblit to push off that date. With the hearing so far off, Netanyahu will also have additional chances to try to delay it.
The battle over the date is highly significant both because it allows Netanyahu to continue to dominate the election news cycle with talking points that he is being victimized, and because once the actual date falls it could determine whether the prime minister will need to resign upon being indicted.
If the current October 2-3 hearing date stands, Netanyahu will likely be unable to pass new laws to prevent his prosecution while acting as prime minister before Mandelblit can indict him.
If the date is pushed off even a few months, the prime minister will have a better opportunity to pass such new legislation.
Netanyahu requested a second delay on Wednesday, arguing that it was necessary in light of the unexpected new election that will be taking place. But Mandelblit responded that the new election did not justify a second delay.
Furthermore, he said that he had already agreed to delay the hearing until October 2-3, even though his pre-indictment announcement dated to February 28, and the original hearing date set for July 10 had already been postponed.
When Mandelblit agreed to postpone the July 10 date, he also agreed to postpone hearings for other defendants in the prime minister’s cases until August 15.
However, they are not getting any further delays, which also appeared to be part of the decision to not grant Netanyahu a second delay.
Mandelblit announced the rejection in the context of trying to fight off a petition filed to the High Court from the opposite direction – a demand by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel that he stick to his original July 10 hearing date.
Hadad added arguments on Sunday for why there should be a second postponement. He said that he has been reviewing the case file to prepare for the hearing, and has already noticed that dozens of documents are missing. Netanyahu’s lawyer said that he cannot prepare for the case without these documents.
Compounding this issue, Hadad highlighted that Netanyahu’s other lawyers, from the law firm of Navot Tel Tzur, have ceased to represent him, which he said left only his law firm to do the heavy lifting of reviewing a massive load of documents from the three affairs. Tel Tzur quit over unpaid legal bills, stemming from an ongoing dispute between Netanyahu and the State Comptroller committee, which has denied him the right to pay his legal defense from donations from tycoon allies.
Hadad referenced this dispute, saying that it was unfair that other political officials have gotten their legal bills paid by allies, but Netanyahu has been denied the right.
The committee has said that Netanyahu should not receive aid from tycoons when the underlying crimes of some of the allegations against him specifically relate to him illegally receiving expensive gifts and support from some of the same people.
The prime minister is expected to try to add additional new lawyers to his staff, both to involve more senior personalities and because adding new lawyers may give him a new argument for an extension on the hearing date so that his new lawyers can prepare.
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