Netanyahu's Lawyers Ask to Postpone Pre-indictment Hearing Until Fees Settled

May 10 was last date given by attorney general to schedule a date for hearing on the prime minister's corruption and bribery cases

File photo: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Likud party session at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Israel, April 30, 2019.

Benjamin Netanyahu's lawyers asked Friday that his pre-indictment hearing be postponed by several months until their legal fees are settled in the three corruption cases against the prime minister

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit said last month that the lawyers' payment was not sufficient reason to postpone the hearing, which he said must be held by July 10. Netanyahu’s lawyers have refused to collect the evidence to prepare for the hearing until they are paid.  

Friday May 10 was the final date set by Mendelblit for scheduling the hearing. 

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Meanwhile, the permits committee at the State Comptroller’s Office is expected to decide on Netanyahu's request to use external funding to pay his defense team. The lawyers for the other suspects in the Netanyahu cases collected the evidence in their cases last month.

Mendelblit told the prime minister's lawyers last month that if Netanyahu chooses not to attend a pre-indictment hearing, Mendelblit would file an indictment based on the evidence in his possession.  

This week, Netanyahu's lawyers told the permits committee that the prime minister was retracting his request for 2 million shekels ($557,000) from his cousin to help fund his defense in the three criminal cases in which he may be indicted, pending a hearing.

Netanyahu said he would instead seek to raise the funds from a different businessman, Spencer Partrich, and that he was considering making a request to another donor. Hanging over all this are allegations that Netanyahu improperly made money by buying and selling shares in a company owned by his cousin, Nathan Milikowsky, an issue now being investigated by prosecutors.

In a letter, Netanyahu's attorneys said they wanted to meet with the committee as soon as possible because their decision could have an impact on the hearing.