Editorial

Mendelblit Must Not Drag Out Criminal Investigations Into Netanyahu

The present uncertainty not only harms proper governance, but creates a crisis of confidence between the public and the justice system, which is supposed to act faster and more resolutely

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit in 2015.
AFP

The cases concerning the conduct of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his close circles are piling higher from day to day and the suspicions are becoming more serious.

Netanyahu himself was interviewed by the police on two central cases, dubbed 1000 and 2000, focusing on benefits he allegedly received. His wife Sara is facing an indictment in the case regarding the prime minister’s homes. His lawyer David Shimron was questioned this week about the submarines case, and his confidant, Communications Ministry Director-General Shlomo Filber, was interrogated by Israel Security Authority investigators as part of a wide-ranging fraud investigation into the Bezeq telecommunications company.

Also this week, a grave Comptroller’s Report was published, dealing with the Communications Ministry’s handling of Bezeq and with Netanyahu’s conflict of interests, due to his close relations with Bezeq’s controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch.

In 2008, when former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was under investigation, Netanyahu said: “A prime minister sunk up to his neck in investigations has no moral and public mandate to determine issues so crucial to Israel. The right thing is for this government to go home, and return the mandate to the voter.”

Netanyahu does not intend to apply these standards to himself. His coalition partners also prefer political survival to keeping Israeli public life clean. So for more than eight months Netanyahu and those surrounding him have been under heavy suspicions of corruption, but continue unhindered to hold onto power.

A considerable part of the public’s rage is directed at Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, and for good reason. The investigations’ continuation makes the public suspect that the attorney general is not doing enough to speed them along and decide whether to file indictments.

Mendelblit must put an end to this situation. He must immediately state a date, as early as possible, on which the investigations into cases 1000 and 2000 will be completed and a decision be made on whether to indict. He must also see to it that the other cases are not dragged out.

The present uncertainty not only harms proper governance, but creates a crisis of confidence between the public and the justice system, which is supposed to act faster and more resolutely.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.