Final Decision on Netanyahu Corruption Charges to Be Made by July

Attorney general accepts request by the PM's legal team to delay hearing in corruption cases until after election out of concern material could leak and sway public sentiment

File photo: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a Likud meeting in Jerusalem, March 11, 2019.
Gil Cohen-Magen

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit will make his final decision in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption cases will only be revealed after the April 9 election, he said Monday.

Mendelblit "decided to accept the request of the prime minister's attorneys to delay the delivery of investigation materials in the cases related to the prime minister until after the election date," the Justice Ministry said in a statement. 

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The statement said Netanyahu made the request out of concern that evidentiary material could leak to the media and potentially affect public sentiment. 

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The hearing that will decide whether Netanyahu will be indicted will take place no later than July 10, allowing legal teams up to three months to prepare for it, the ministry said.

Mendelblit will conduct Netanyahu's pre-indictment hearing, whereas Liat Ben Ari of the Tel Aviv District Attorney's Office Taxation and Economics Division will conduct hearings for other suspects in Netanyahu's cases, namely former Bezeq owner Shaul Elovitch and wife Iris and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes.

The attorney general announced last month he intended to indict Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, though the actual filing of the charges would depend on the outcome of the required hearing. 

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Due to proximity to the election, the hearing had been widely expected to happen after the vote

Netanyahu is suspected of wrongfully accepting $264,000 worth of gifts from tycoons and dispensing favors in alleged bids for improved coverage by an Israeli newspaper and a website. 

The prime minister has denied any wrongdoing. 

He could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of bribery and a maximum 3-year term for fraud and breach of trust. 

Opinion polls show a tight race for Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, with gains for a center-left alliance led by Benny Gantz, an ex-armed forces chief who has vowed clean government.