Editorial

Mendelblit, Decide Before the Election

For Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, it his duty to the public to render his decision on the Netanyahu cases, at least the decision pending a hearing, before the election

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit in the Knesset, December 3, 2018.
Emil Salman

Three months from Election Day and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu potentially faces serious criminal charges. These suspected criminal offenses are the most significant factor now before the public, or, should one say, the biggest missing variable.

For Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has yet to make a pronouncement as to whether the evidence collected in the police investigations is sufficient to prove charges of bribery and fraud in court, nor has the public been permitted to see a detailed factual and evidentiary picture.

Netanyahu is well aware of this, which is why he threw the entire political system into a new election whose real purpose is to avoid the implications of the decisions now being made about potential criminal charges against him.

His statements on Monday during his visit to Brazil – “It is not logical to open a hearing process before elections if you can’t finish it before elections. ... It’s a terrible blow to democracy” – are yet another move in his attempt to delay Mendelblit’s decision about his case until after the election, a bid to make the advancement of the legal proceedings against him take a back seat to the political timetable he himself created.

According to this cynical logic, since there is no chance that Mendelblit will complete the hearing process before the election – i.e., make a final decision on whether to indict the prime minister, no hearing process may be opened – i.e., no decision may be made to indict Netanyahu pending a hearing.

The attorney general obviously cannot consent to such manipulation, which is all that the suspect’s doing. State Prosecutor Shay Nitzan was correct in saying it is incumbent on law enforcement authorities to act as speedily as possible to make decisions on the cases involving the prime minister.

To this should be added the comments of the former attorneys general and state prosecutors who have met with Mendelblit in the past days and stressed to him that it his duty to the public to render his decision, at least the decision pending a hearing, before the election.

Mendelblit’s persistent assertions that the thoroughness of the decision-making process will not be compromised by its speed does not change this fact.

Before choosing whom to vote for, the public has a right to know the truth about the prime minister’s legal situation in all the criminal affairs in which he is a suspect. The same goes for other public officials currently embroiled in legal trouble – including Ministers Arye Dery and Haim Katz and MK David Bitan.