Israel's Top Prosecutor 'Hopes Netanyahu's Investigation Will End in a Few Weeks'

'Investigating a prime minister isn't easy,' state prosecutor Nitzan says, but 'it isn't dictated by politics'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem December 17, 2017.
POOL/REUTERS

Israel's state prosecutor said on Thursday that he "hoped" the various investigations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "would be completed and the police submit their recommendations within a few weeks."

Speaking at Globes Israel Business Conference in Jerusalem, Nitzan said allegations that the police investigations into Netanyahu's affairs were being held up were "groundless."

"Investigating a prime minister isn't easy," he said. But noted that "it isn't dictated by any political interests."

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, who also spoke at the conference, said "Israel is not a corrupt state, it's a state that fights corruption.

"Nobody is immune from the law. Nobody is above the law. The law enforcement is carried out honestly, independently, without prejudice, responsibly and cautiously but resolutely. It is not affected one way or the other by the rumblings in the country."

Witness for the prosecution

Referring to the investigation against Netanyahu's right-hand man in the Likud, coalition whip David Bitan, Nitzan spoke about deals with suspects that turn them into state's evidence.

Former coalition whip David Bitan, 2017.
Tomer Appelbaum

"In the past we signed quite a few agreements ensuring that those who become state's evidence would have total immunity," he said. "But in recent years we've been trying to avoid this and make deals that ensure the state's witness is also brought to account, convicted and given a prison sentence. The advantage is that the sentence is shorter than he would have been handed had he not signed the agreement."

"This way the state's witness is punished for his acts, and the defendant he testifies against also pays – if convicted - and his criminal acts are exposed in court and to the public," he said.

Nitzan said such deal send an unequivocal message to anyone who is about to commit an offense. "You can never trust any of your partners, assistants or closest confidants not to turn you in one day. Not your personal secretary who's been with you for decades, nor your loyal driver, nor your personal assistant and certainly not the bribe giver or bribe broker. In the moment of truth, anyone who committed a crime with you, or was aware of your deeds – and someone always is – can become state's evidence against you, because for him, saving his skin will always come before saving your skin."

Nitzan spoke about the corruption investigations against local government officials and said the numerous probes show that "we won't put up with corruption on this level. Some of the investigations have ended with the conviction of mayors' and council heads, and in most cases the culprits were sentenced to prison. Some investigations are still ongoing – including an extensive one against the mayor of Rishon Letzion and other senior local government officials as well as an incumbent MK."

"I hope the message is picked up by the candidates who run in the oncoming local elections and by the public at large: 'corrupt people, beware.'"