Israeli Attorney General Opens Inquiry Into Netanyahu Amid Police Investigation

According to Avichai Mendelblit's announcement, the examination is not a criminal investigation; his office says recent media reports on the matter have been inaccurate.

A profile shot of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the 2016 Genesis Prize award-ceremony in Jerusalem, June 23, 2016. He is wearing a dark suit, white shirt and dark tie.
Amir Cohen, Reuters

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has instructed that an investigation related to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be opened, his office said on Sunday.

It stressed that no criminal investigation has been opened.

"Following information received in matters pertaining among other things to the prime minister, and which has been presented to the attorney general by the police's investigations and intelligence department, the attorney general has conducted a number of discussions attended by the state prosecutor and other senior officials in the Justice Ministry and the police's investigations and intelligence department. Upon their conclusion, the attorney general has decided to instruct that an examination of the matter be opened," his office said.

"In recent days, many reports – which are inaccurate, to say the least – have been published in the media regarding information pertaining to an examination and to actions that were allegedly taken as part of it. Naturally, we will not be able to refer to these reports or to elaborate as to the process of the examination at this stage."

A spokesman for Netanyahu responded. "As happened in all previous cases, when things that turned out to be baseless were attributed to Netanyahu, there will be nothing here either – because there is nothing."

On Saturday, senior law enforcement officials told Haaretz that part of the material that the examination is based on had originated in other, unrelated probes of Netanyahu.

Recently, the police tried to reach a number of people they hope can shed light on the affair and could serve as state witnesses. The probe team is comprised of a small number of officers who have kept all the investigation details mum, preventing any leaks to the press. The police's anti-fraud unit has already gathered testimonies in the affair.

On Friday, Israeli media reported that the latest police investigation into Netanyahu's affairs involves suspicions of money laundering on a wide-scale.

The suspicion pertains to the alleged transfer of "large sums" to either Netanyahu or one of his family members and is not linked to campaign or political funding, Channel 2's senior diplomatic correspondent Amnon Abramovich said.

Israel's Channel 2 reported Saturday the investigation focuses on funds allegedly received by a Netanyahu family member. The report said the alleged funds were not used for political purposes.