One of the chief revelations of the police recommendations regarding Case 4000 on Sunday was how completely they view Sara Netanyahu as being culpable for bribery along with the prime minister.Allegations against Sara can potentially change the balance of the upcoming key decisions at multiple junctures.
First, The Jerusalem Post in June was the first to report that Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit would be ready to seek an indictment against Benjamin Netanyahu for bribery in Case 4000 (the “Bezeq-Walla! Affair”).But back in June, Mandelblit himself was less clear about what he would decide regarding Cases 1000 (the “Illegal Gifts Affair”) and 2000 (the “Yediot Ahronot-Yisrael Hayom Affair”), both in terms of whether to indict, and if so, on serious bribery charges or reduced breach of trust charges.One thing that was clear and is still true is that Mandelblit is a strategist who is viewing all of the ancillary questions in light of the big question: whether his decision will likely topple Netanyahu and the government.Of course, he is cognizant of the involved legal principles, but law is an art.If he is borderline on certain charges, then he may view his decision in terms of what impact it will have on whether his broader decision to topple the prime minister is viewed as legitimate.The Post also reported in June that he would push hard to reach a deal with the prime minister to potentially allow him to step down with dignity by accepting a plea deal with no jail time in exchange for Netanyahu declining to seek reelection or resigning.There is already precedent for this in a major Jerusalem District Court sentencing decision relating to former prime minister Ehud Olmert.And Sara Netanyahu gives Mandelblit more cards.If he keeps her in the case, he has a powerful additional pressure point on the prime minister to cut a deal.If he closes the case against her, he can project himself to Netanyahu supporters as acting fairly and independently of the police even as he seeks Netanyahu’s indictment.The same is true about Cases 1000 and 2000.From a legal perspective, every case and charge matters a lot.But do most people really remember what Olmert was convicted of and which charges added up to which piece of his sentence? All they remember is that he was toppled and went to jail.From this strategic perspective, if Mandelblit topples the prime minister on bribery charges via Case 4000, his critics from the Left may be annoyed for dropping or reducing charges in Cases 1000 and 2000 and for dropping charges against Sara, but they will still have to stand shoulder to shoulder with him.To his critics on the Right, if he reduces Case 1000 from bribery to breach of trust, and does the same for Case 2000 – or even closes it and drops Sara – he will have painted a much more sympathetic picture of Netanyahu than the police, even as he takes him down.This also explains the misunderstood role of his newly created prosecution red-team which will get a chance to second guess the main prosecution team, which appears ready to endorse almost all of the police recommendations (though possibly not against Sara.)Critics of Mandelblit from the Left are worried that he will use the team to let Netanyahu off.That is not in the cards – but he may use the team to justify reducing some charges.Then, ultimately, the team will be a bulletproof vest for him against Netanyahu supporters. He will be able to say: Look, I even gathered a second team, and even they said to indict Netanyahu for bribery in Case 4000.The police may have taken a public relations hit on Sunday, but they gave Mandelblit a range of new cards to play.
Netanyahu"s legal woes grow as police seek new bribery charges, December 3, 2018 (Reuters)