AG rejects campaign undermining state prosecution over Netanyahu probe

The attorney-general also defended how long it has taken and will still take for him to decide on whether to charge Netanyahu for his alleged involvement in three major corruption affairs.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit (C) speaks in Knesset, June 27, 2018 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit (C) speaks in Knesset, June 27, 2018
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit rejected campaigns on Wednesday to delegitimize his and the police’s criminal probe into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for alleged corruption.
A variety of Likud MKs have attacked law enforcement’s use of state’s witnesses against Netanyahu, calling the state’s witnesses corrupt.
Speaking at the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, Mandelblit said that even though “state’s witnesses are involved in crimes and it would be better if we did not need to use them, but to get to the truth, we are willing to pay the price. It is a strategic way to fight corruption.... we use all legitimate and possible tools, including state’s witnesses” to get to the truth.
Another point the attorney-general emphasized was defending how long it has taken and will take for him to decide the three major alleged corruption affairs.
Even as some have said he has wasted years probing the prime minister, he said that he opened the first criminal probe against Netanyahu only in December 2016.
He said that the around one-and-a-half years also has had many changing developments, including Case 4000, the Bezeq-Walla! Affair getting serious only at the end of 2017 and truly breaking open only a few months ago, when top Netanyahu advisers Shlomo Filber and Nir Hefetz turned into state’s witnesses.
Pushing back at those who demand he immediately decide the cases, he said, “Tweeters and others like them will not move me to budge an inch.”
In mid-June, the Jerusalem Post exclusively reported that it had learned that Mandelblit will likely announce an intent to indict Netanyahu in Case 1000 (alleged illegal gifts) and Case 4000, but not until the end of 2018 or the start of 2019. The Post reported that Case 2000 (Yediot Aharonot-Israel Hayom) was more up in the air.
Mandelblit did not give any dates during his appearance Wednesday.
A third major point, he emphasized, was pushing back against criticism that his office has blocked public revelation of various recordings and material connected to the cases.
He said that he has repeatedly rejected publicizing “gossip” against the prime minister, which might be desired by the media and those opposing Netanyahu, but which are not relevant to the criminal probes.
This past week, Channel 2 has revealed a range of recordings that have placed the Netanyahu family in a negative light relating to Sara Netanyahu’s alleged use of state funds or allegedly pressuring her staff to spend money for her – only days after Mandelblit indicted her.
While some points might relate to cases against the prime minister and his wife, some have been attacked as gossip, and the Netanyahus have attacked the revelations as lies or being taken out of context.
The attorney-general also headed off criticism of his continued face-to-face meetings with Netanyahu, saying that they both know how to remain professional, and that if he really wanted to act improperly, there are many ways he could do so without it having to be face-to-face.
Moving away from the prime minister’s probes, Mandelblit expressed concern about “the use of power of some in the Knesset to weaken” law enforcement and the legal establishment.
He said, “It is important to protect us because our power comes only from the legitimacy which comes from you... statements like ‘Get rid of the dictatorship of the Supreme Court’ have a purpose to reduce oversight which is critical to democracy.”