The Israeli Police Recommended Indicting Netanyahu, So What Happens Now?

Judging by past cases that plagued prime ministers Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Netanyahu himself, the attorney general may take some time to decided on indicting the prime minister

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset, February 13, 2018
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset, February 13, 2018Credit: Emil salman
Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel

Now that the police have submitted their recommendations, it’s the prosecutors’ move. Before the attorney general decides whether to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for bribery, the prosecutors handling the case, led by tax and economic prosecutor Liat Ben Ari, will be asked to draw up a detailed opinion on the quality of the evidence.

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The document will be sent to all senior Justice Ministry officials who deal with criminal law, each of whom will express an opinion. But Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit will make the final decision.

The legal team that has been handling the investigations into Netanyahu, which includes Ben Ari’s deputy Jonathan Tadmor and Etty Ben Dor, is an experienced team that was in this position during the Holyland corruption case against 18 suspects including former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. That case was particularly complex, but it still sheds light on the timetable for Netanyahu.

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In the Holyland case, seven months passed between the release of the police’s recommendations and the decision by then-State Prosecutor Moshe Lador to file an indictment, subject to a hearing.

(The attorney general at the time, Yehuda Weinstein, had to recuse himself from cases involving Olmert.) In the investigations into the cash-envelopes and Rishon Tours cases, which eventually led to Olmert’s resignation, it took the prosecution six months after the police recommendations to decide to indict.

In the Avner Amedi case that was closed in 2000, the suspicion was that Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu charged the government for work done at their private residence by Amedi and others before and during Netanyahu’s premiership. The suspicions included bribery, fraud and obstructing an investigation.

Three months after the police submitted their recommendations, Lador, who was then Jerusalem prosecutor, and his staff recommended closing the case. From there the discussions moved to State Prosecutor Edna Arbel and Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein. It took Rubinstein three months to order the case closed for a lack of evidence, for a total of six months.

In the Greek island affair that plagued Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his family, the police recommended against an indictment. A few months later, Menachem Mazuz became attorney general; it took him more than four months to decide to close the case, eight months after the investigation had ended.

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