Netanyahu Considers Petitioning High Court to Delay Pre-indictment Hearing

Last week, Attorney General Avichay Mendelblit denied a request by the prime minister to postpone his hearing in three corruption probes

File photo: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, June 2, 2019.
Ronen Zvulun / AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering to petition the High Court of Justice against the attorney general's decision not to postpone his pre-indictment hearing in three corruption cases.

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit set Monday as the deadline for Netanyahu's lawyer to officially announce whether the premier intends to appear at the hearing set for October 2 and 3. If necessary, an additional day in court will be scheduled for the following week.

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Last Thursday, Mendelblit rejected Netanyahu's request to postpone his pre-indictment hearing to a later date. Netanyahu's attorney, Amit Hadad, is expected to announce on Monday that his client seeks to exercise his right to a hearing, however, not on the date set by Mendelblit since he needs more time to prepare.

Netanyahu seeks to delay his pre-indictment hearing, arguing that the do-over election makes the current date impossible. Last week, he slammed the attorney general's decision to reject his request, calling it "a definition of injustice. It's unacceptable that an ill-defined wild chase is taking precedence over the need to search for the truth."

Meanwhile, Netanyahu is looking for new attorneys after Navot Tel Zur, who headed the prime minister's defense team, resigned. Netanyahu has recently approached several prominent attorneys to represent him, with some of them declining the request.

Netanyahu's  refusal to pay for his legal defense from his own pocket, encountered difficulties while trying to raise funds from his wealthy associates and still haven't paid the salaries of the litigators who represented him in the past.

Netanyahu in suspected in three corruption cases. In February, Mendelblit announced that unless the pre-indictment hearing changes his mind, he plans to charge Netanyahu with taking bribes in the Bezeq-Walla case and with fraud and breach of trust in two other cases involving  illicit gifts from businessmen and negotiating with a newspaper publisher to secure more favorable coverage.

Mendelblit acceded to publish the evidence material on April 10, one day after the April 9 election, as had been requested by Netanyahu, who feared that it might leak to his political rivals.