Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit believes that if Benjamin Netanyahu had continued on as prime minister, it would have endangered Israeli democracy, Channel 12 reported on Tuesday night.
Framing the Mandelblit quotations as comments the attorney-general has made to those close to him in his office, the report said he had seen a disturbing trend under Netanyahu of attempts to manage top officials as loyalty puppets “which constituted a danger to democracy.”
He said Netanyahu was only interested in appointing those completely loyal to him “and not to the public.”
“The war turned into a battle over the public’s faith,” in which Netanyahu tried to alter the basic DNA of the state prosecution and of the country’s media, said Mandelblit.
“I do not think people [fully] saw it,” he said. “It was very sophisticated... It started with small things... [interfering in the appointments of] legal advisers for ministries, but it changes our DNA.”
He accused Netanyahu of wanting to take over the Supreme Court, the Attorney-General’s Office and nearly all apolitical official posts, which could have “caused us to fall apart from inside.”
Mandelblit lamented not having a permanent chief state prosecutor from December 2019 until this June.
“There was nothing I could do,” he said. “The only alternative” was to accept someone whose sole loyalty was to Netanyahu.
According to Mandelblit, “The grace of heaven saved us from Netanyahu” since otherwise “there was a [potential] situation to avoid trial, [and Netanyahu would] change everything,” and could even have brought in a new attorney-general to close the case against him.
Mandelblit argued that “there is no guarantee for democracy” other than individuals standing up for the rule of law and Divine intervention.
“These are comments from a [non-elected] government official who decided [that he would do] nothing less than replace the [judgment] of the nation,” sources close to Netanyahu.
They accused Mandelblit of being bent on toppling Netanyahu, just as former Netanyahu aide and prosecution witness Nir Hefetz testified at the trial on Tuesday about police tactics used on him.
Despite that response, Mandelblit – who was appointed by Netanyahu having served as his close cabinet secretary – publicly declared a deep sadness upon indicting Netanyahu.