Likud launches assault on prosecution ahead of Benjamin Netanyahu trial

Amir Ohana attacks A-G on way out the door

Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announces his decision regarding indictment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over alleged corruption, in Jerusalem November 21, 2019; Israel justice minister, Amir Ohana attends a special cabinet meeting in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights June 16,  (photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)
Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announces his decision regarding indictment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over alleged corruption, in Jerusalem November 21, 2019; Israel justice minister, Amir Ohana attends a special cabinet meeting in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights June 16,
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)
 The Likud has launched a coordinated assault against Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit and the state prosecution ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bribery trial, which is set to start on May 24.
Outgoing Acting Justice Minister Amir Ohana, Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev and others publicly attacked Mandelblit and the prosecution over the weekend. The attacks included a partial leak of a transcript, which is under gag order, to Channel 13 reporter Ayala Hasson relating to a 10-year-old affair in which Mandelblit was a suspect. The A-G was cleared and suspicions against him were deemed baseless.
With Netanyahu about to enter the courthouse as a defendant in only two weeks, Likud appears intent on spending these next two weeks painting those who filed the indictment against the prime minister as corrupt and unfairly bringing him to trial.
Netanyahu faces three separate cases with charges of bribery, fraud and breach of public trust, with one of the cases alleging media bribery in influencing government policies to benefit Bezeq owner Shaul Elovitch worth up to NIS 1.8 billion in exchange for more positive coverage in the Elovitch-owned Walla! news site.
Ohana attempted a body blow on Saturday night against Mandelblit and the state prosecution on his way out the door as justice minister, with Blue and White's Avi Nissenkorn due to replace him on Wednesday.
Having lost a battle before the High Court of Justice to extend the term of temporary state attorney Dan Eldad, Ohana said he may call for a state commission of inquiry into how Mandelblit handled the Eldad matter, into the 10-year-old Harpaz Affair and into other unspecified issues he has with the prosecution.
Ohana himself has come under unprecedented attack from the legal establishment as a partisan actor on behalf of Netanyahu, with little concern for his conduct’s long-term impact on the justice system.
Whereas his predecessor, Ayelet Shaked, was critical of the High Court for allegedly activist decisions regarding policy, she was always respectful of Mandelblit and the state prosecution arm.
In interviews with The Jerusalem Post, Shaked was always clear that while she hoped Netanyahu would be acquitted, she believed that Mandelblit's approach was completely neutral and objective.
In contrast, before Ohana had been in office for even a short time, he had already said he might ignore some court orders and he accused the state prosecution – without evidence – of preparing fake indictments against him to quiet his criticism.
Ohana proceeded to publicly fight Mandelblit over who would be temporary state attorney until a new government was formed, a battle that lasted for months.
Mandelblit said that the state attorney is his main deputy. Therefore, he noted that the attorney-general controls the selection committee for a permanent state attorney in normal times under a permanent government, so even a temporary state attorney should be a candidate he supports.
The attorney-general succeeded in defeating Ohana's first choice for acting state attorney, but relented in allowing Eldad to be appointed while he was in a battle with the political class about a range of other issues.
However, Mandelblit refused to extend Eldad past May 1 – and the High Court allowed Eldad's role to expire on that date, over heavy objection by Ohana.

ELDAD HAS lashed out at Mandelblit and insinuated he made some ethical mistakes in the Harpaz Affair and asked State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman to probe the matter. However, even Eldad has admitted that none of his charges are criminal in nature.
Englman has said the issues were already probed and that he has no authority or interest in taking a second bite at the apple.
Around 20 prosecutors representing the heads of all the country's prosecution divisions slammed Eldad as acting politically and unprofessionally to damage Mandelblit.
Nissenkorn in the meantime has given the impression that he could care less about the battles over Eldad and does not identify with Ohana's criticisms, but is also keeping quiet from making public comments until he actually takes office on Wednesday.
There is little chance of a state commission of inquiry since Blue and White would not support it. 
There is also little chance of the 2010 Harpaz Affair being reopened, given that the transcript leaked to Hasson has been known to those closely following the case for years and has no really new incriminating information other than that some of the transcript is politically embarrassing for Mandelblit and for Blue and White foreign-minister-in-waiting Gabi Ashkenazi.
The transcript itself will not be released as it was acquired in circumstances violating the wiretapping law, which means it could never be used in court anyway. 
Further, when the prosecution closed the case against Mandelblit because the suspicions were groundless, a petition to the High Court to block him from becoming attorney-general was unanimously rejected by the High Court.
The Harpaz Affair involved a battle between then-defense minister Ehud Barak and then-IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi over who would be viewed as "Mr. Security" by the public and over who would succeed Ashkenazi.
Ashkenazi was probed for possessing a document forged by one of his supporters relating to the competition over who would succeed him, but the case against him was closed for lack of sufficient evidence.
When Ashkenazi confessed having possession of the document to Mandelblit, who at the time was the IDF's chief lawyer, Mandelblit briefly delayed reporting the news to then-attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein to weigh what action to take.
By the next day, Mandelblit told Ashkenazi he must report the issue to Weinstein.
Mandelblit came under some criticism for the delay, but explained the short delay noting that the role of IDF chief lawyer, unlike the post of attorney-general, blurs the distinction between whether he functions and reports directly to the IDF chief, as opposed to having law enforcement duties beyond the IDF chain of command.