Report: Police to recommend dropping investigation into MK Herzog graft case

In late March, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit initiated an initial probe into alleged campaign fund-raising violations by Herzog.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN,
April 24, 2016 20:28
2 minute read.
Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog speaks to the press

Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog speaks to the press. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

 
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Police have decided that there is not enough evidence for them to recommend that the Attorney-General’s Office indict opposition leader Isaac Herzog on corruption charges, Channel 2 reported Sunday night.

The report stressed that deliberations on the case in the Attorney-General’s Office continue since Herzog was questioned under caution about alleged campaign fund-raising violations on April 17. Such deliberations could take several weeks.

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In late March, Attorney- General Avichai Mandelblit initiated an initial probe into alleged fund-raising violations by Herzog in his 2013 campaign for the Labor Party leadership against incumbent Shelly Yacimovich. Politicians and activists have been questioned by investigators, who are looking into whether companies spent large sums to try to help Herzog defeat Yacimovich.

An official from the police’s Lahav 433 branch, which is in charge of the investigation, said that the case is ongoing and no decision has been made to close it. The official also said police would not comment on a case that is pending, much less to confirm or deny a media report.

Police are not responsible for deciding whether or not an indictment will be filed.

That choice lies with the Attorney-General’s Office.

Regardless, when they finish an investigation and hand over the material they can recommend for or against pursuing an indictment, based on the evidence gathered.



Herzog declined to respond to the report, but he has expressed confidence throughout the legal process that he would be completely cleared.

He has called the investigation “an attempt at political character assassination” by the Likud and by “frustrated Labor activists” who no longer support him.

Zionist Union MKs welcomed the reported decision by police.

Labor’s secretary-general, MK Hilik Bar, who is close to Herzog, said that even if he is completely cleared of charges, he will oppose resuming efforts to bring about a national-unity government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I am not surprised by the report,” Bar said. “I supported him with full confidence from the start, even when it wasn’t so popular. I know Herzog close to two decades as an honest, law-abiding man. I believed in his innocence all along the way and said so on every possible stage. Beyond my personal joy, I am glad that we as a party can return to deal without delay with important issues on the national agenda and continue struggling as an opposition on behalf of the public to replace Netanyahu’s failed government.”

Zionist Union MK Eitan Cabel said he is happy about the report and that he hopes Mandelblit makes it official as soon as possible. He said he trusts the attorney-general to bring justice to light.

“All along, I believed in Buji’s innocence,” Zionist Union MK Amir Peretz said, using Herzog’s nickname. “I wholeheartedly congratulate him on the file that will close and the cloud that will be removed from above his head. I am happy that we can now return to dealing with pressing diplomatic, security, and socioeconomic issues.”

Herzog’s critic in the Zionist Union faction, MK Erel Margalit, did not respond to the report. But he did release a statement reacting to criticism that a blunt campaign video he released last week had gone too far in its language and its criticism of Prime Minister Netanyahu.

“Sometimes you have to be provocative in order to wake people up,” Margalit said. “We will replace Netanyahu, not by being nice but by being steadfast.”

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