Decision Whether to Charge Netanyahu in Multiple Corruption Cases Expected Next Month

Avichai Mendelblit to announce whether Netanyahu will be indicted in three cases before April 9 election, source says

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem December 19, 2018.
REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is expected to make a decision on whether to charge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the three criminal investigations pending against the prime minister before the April 9 Knesset elections and will announce his decision next month, a source close to Mendelblit has told Haaretz.

The attorney general himself declined to comment on when he would make a decision, saying: “It’s no secret that we’re trying to work as quickly as possible.” But he added that the decision would “in no way [come] at the expense of professionalism.”

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Amid speculation as to how the decision might affect the election, and criticism from Netanyahu, who said he would not resign if summoned for a pre-indictment hearing, the attorney general has received backing from senior Justice Ministry officials and from his own predecessors in his efforts to make a decision before the election.

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These backers said they believe it is Mendelblit’s obligation to made the decision public before the election. Mendelblit added that there was “nothing to prevent” the prime minister from serving in office prior to a pre-indictment hearing if it is decided to file charges against Netanyahu. For his part, late last month, Netanyahu, said: “It’s inconceivable that a hearing against me will be launched before the election and it will end after it.”

One of the cases against the prime minister, dubbed Case 1000, involves allegations that the prime minister accepted gifts from wealthy business figures in violation of the law.

A second case, Case 2000, centers on discussions between the prime minister and Arnon Mozes, the publisher of the Yedioth Ahronoth daily, allegedly involving favorable news coverage for the prime minister in exchange for government policies benefitting Yedioth.

The third case, Case 4000, involves allegations that Netanyahu provided regulatory concessions to the controlling shareholder at the time of the Bezeq telecommunications firm in exchange for favorable coverage from Bezeq’s news website, Walla. The prime minister denies any wrongdoing in the cases.

Mendelblit began marathon meetings on the cases about two weeks ago. Deliberations on Case 1000 took two weeks and have concluded. On Sunday discussions are expected to begin on Case 2000, to be followed by Case 4000. In Case 1000, Mendelblit is reportedly inclined to indict the prime minister for fraud and breach of trust.