Shai Nitzan: Not close to decision on Netanyahu corruption case

A-G Mandelblit rejects PM Benjamin Netanyahu's request for probe of leak.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit (R) (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit (R)
State Attorney Shai Nitzan said on Monday night that he and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit are not yet close to a decision on the public corruption cases facing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Speaking at a Justice Ministry conference organized to encourage law students to apply for ministry internships, Nitzan said that because the prosecution is being so careful to weigh every legal argument made by Netanyahu’s lawyers at October’s pre-indictment hearings, the decision-making process “has taken time, and will yet take more time.”
While Mandelblit’s office has made it clear that there will be a decision before Nitzan steps down on December 15, some had speculated that Mandelblit might decide Netanyahu’s legal fate in early November so as to help resolve the standoff over forming a government by effectively pushing Netanyahu out the door.
In contrast, Nitzan’s statement confirmed indications received by The Jerusalem Post that Mandelblit will issue his decision closer to December 15.
Both Nitzan and Mandelblit rejected attacks on the prosecution as blatantly made-up and misleading during their remarks at the conference.
Earlier Monday, Mandelblit rejected a request by Netanyahu’s lawyers for a criminal probe and a polygraph of the law enforcement officials who may be responsible for rampant leaks to the media regarding the public corruption cases.
Mandelblit said that he might still open a criminal probe in the future, depending on the nature of the leaked classified material to the media, but that to date a probe would be unjustified.
While the attorney-general condemned the leaks, he said that there are public policy consequences to probing such leaks, both in harming the free press and whistleblowing, and that all considerations needed to be weighed.
The attorney-general rejected the polygraph suggestion, saying that the courts have set specific categories, often relating to national security, when public officials can receive polygraphs, and that the leaks in question do not fit into those categories.
Also, he said that there had been more leaks since the full evidentiary files were transferred to the various defendants in the Netanyahu cases, implying lawyers for other defendants may have arranged many of the leaks.
He said he would continue to monitor the issue.
Netanyahu has complained that well over 100 leaks by law enforcement to the media have harmed his public standing and potentially damaged his right to a fair trial.
A Netanyahu spokesman rejected the idea that defense lawyers had spread all of the leaks, noting that many of the leaks came in January, long before the defense lawyers received the full case file.