State attorney keeps open possibility of pre-election indictment of Netanyahu

Former state attorney Moshe Lador said earlier this month that any scenario besides an indictment against Netanyahu “is not realistic.”

State Attorney Shay Nitzan   (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
State Attorney Shay Nitzan
Top Justice Ministry officials are still undecided about whether they will announce their decision regarding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s public corruption cases before the April 9 election, State Attorney Shai Nitzan said Monday at the Calcalist conference in Tel Aviv.
Once reports emerged about the state prosecution team recommended indicting the prime minister, “a lively public discussion ensued about when the decision will be made. Some say the attorney-general is obligated to make the decision before the elections. Others say he is obligated not to make the decision until after the elections,” he said.
“I will say only this about that issue: The attorney-general and I, and all others involved, are obligated to act to complete the deliberations at the earliest possible date. We have invested and will continue to invest substantially to achieve that, without taking away from the comprehensiveness of reviewing the cases,” he stated.
Earlier at the same conference, Shaked came out strongly against an indictment saying, “If God forbid, after a hearing, the attorney-general decides to file an indictment, then we will sit, look it over and decide what to do.”
Responding to Shaked’s statement, Zionist Union MK Revital Swid said, “Do not threaten and do not intervene in the Netanyahu cases.”
She said that “now Shaked has also delivered [Attorney-General Avichai] Mandelblit a threatening message, without it even being veiled,” and reiterated that she has no authority to comment on the attorney-general’s decision.
On December 23, Mandelblit, Nitzan and a wide team of advisers started their deliberations, dubbed “marathon meetings,” over the prime minister’s cases toward a final decision.
Former state attorney Moshe Lador said on December 22 that any scenario other than an indictment against Netanyahu “is not realistic.”
Speaking at an event in Mevaseret Zion, Lador said that the sum total of both police and prosecution team opinions to indict Netanyahu for bribery in cases 1000 (the “Illegal Gifts Affair”), 2000 (“the Yediot Aharonot-Israel Hayom Affair”) and 4000 (“the Bezeq-Walla! Affair”) is simply too powerful for Mandelblit to close the cases against the prime minister.
Lador has said that Case 2000 is as serious as Case 4000, even as The Jerusalem Post has reported that Mandelblit views Case 4000 as the killer bullet for Netanyahu legally.
In April, Mandelblit asked the police to review whether new evidence obtained in Case 4000 strengthened Cases 1000 and 2000.
But in June, the Post learned that Mandelblit still viewed Case 2000 as weaker and Case 1000 as possibly more of a breach of trust case than a more serious bribery case. Then in September, there were leaks that Sheldon Adelson had strengthened Case 2000 against Netanyahu.
It is unclear whether Mandelblit will stick to his initial leanings that Case 2000 is weaker or whether the later developments will bring him to indict Netanyahu for bribery in that case, as he is expected to do in Case 4000.
Both cases 4000 and 2000 involve allegations of the prime minister seeking to bribe Walla and Yediot Aharonot to get more positive media coverage.
In April, Lador said that Case 4000 substantially strengthens Case 2000’s allegations by showing that Netanyahu has a pattern of media bribery.
In early March, former top Netanyahu adviser Nir Hefetz cut a plea deal with the prosecution to turn state’s witness against Netanyahu mainly in Case 4000, but also adding details for Cases 1000 and 2000.
This followed other blows to the prime minister when two other former top aides, Shlomo Filber and Ari Harow, also turned state’s witness – Filber in Case 4000, and Harow in Cases 1000 and 2000.
Netanyahu’s spokesman responded to Lador saying that “Lador’s one-sided statements are part of a string of leaks intended to pressure Mandelblit to indict Netanyahu in what is part of a game that is fixed.”