Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends an annual state memorial ceremony for Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, at his gravesite in Sde Boker Israel, November 14, 2018.
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)
The state prosecution team working on Cases 1000 (the “Illegal Gifts Affair”) and 2000 (the “Yediot Aharonot-Yisrael Hayom Affair”) against Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly recommended that the prime minister be indicted on corruption charges.
A report on Channel 10 late Sunday night claimed that Economic Crimes Division Director Liat Ben-Ari’s has concluded that there was sufficient evidence to indict Netanyahu on a bribery charge in Case 1000. This would consistent with public comments she made in May 2017.
Ben-Ari's recommendation first needs to be approved by State Attorney Shai Nitzan and finally by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, who makes the final decision in such high-profile cases.
Mandelblit has made it clear that he will make a decision on all of the cases at the same time regardless of when recommendations come in.
The Justice Ministry refused to confirm or deny the report.
It is also expected that she and her prosecution team will send their recommendations to Nitzan shortly regarding Case 4000 (the “Bezeq-Walla Affair”).
The Jerusalem Post was the first to report in June that Mandelblit will likely decide on an indictment against Netanyahu for bribery in Case 4000, with a strong chance for Case 1000. Case 2000
was deemed as being less clear.
In May 2017, Ben-Ari said at a Tel Aviv conference on bribery that “there is no such thing as gifts which are too small” to criminally investigate.
Ben-Ari then continued to tell the Israel Bar Association audience, “When we are referring to presents worth hundreds of thousands of shekels, it is hard for me to accept that we are talking solely about presents between friends.”
“I know that about myself and my friends, none of us receive presents of that value,” said Ben-Ari in answer to questions by panel moderators, lawyers Yael Grossman and Ilan Shadi.
Ben-Ari was careful in May 2017 to state that every bribery and criminal case must be looked at in light of its specific circumstances, but the facts she described in her answer dovetail closely with those reported in Case 1000.
Following her comments, Nitzan publicly denied that she had been opining on the Netanyahu cases and said her theoretical comments had been misunderstood.
However, according to the report, it appears that her comments fit together exactly with her final conclusions.
Although Mandelblit makes the final call on whether to indict, Ben-Ari was the famous victorious lead prosecutor against former prime minister Ehud Olmert in the so-called “Holyland Affair” and any recommendation from her to indict Netanyahu will be hard for Mandelblit to reject.
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