Attorney general agrees to meet Netanyahu's attorney in corruption cases
Gali Tibbon/Pool Photo via AP
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's attorney will meet next week with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit concerning the premier’s request to postpone the decision on whether to indict him in the corruption cases.
In a response letter, Mandelblit essentially rejected Netanyahu’s wish to hold off on his decision, explaining that "the process of working on the investigation files relating to the prime minister, which began even before the decision to bring forward the elections, continues as scheduled and proceeds as planned."
“At the same time, the attorney general agreed to hold a meeting with the prime minister's representatives on this matter at their request,” it adds.
Police have recommended Netanyahu’s indictment in three separate cases -- dubbed Cases 1000, 2000, and 4000 -- which deal with various incidence of bribery, fraud, as well as quid pro quo arrangements for favorable press coverage of Netanyahu and his family.
In multiple videos posted to social media, the Israeli premier has urged Mandelblit not to start any court proceedings before the elections in April.
He has appealed to the attorney general and the public, claiming a pre-election announcement would be comparable to losing an arm after being convicted of stealing only to later be “declared innocent upon appeal.”
“It is unacceptable that the public will only hear the claims of one side and not the other,” Netanyahu has contended.
Arecent poll by Maariv daily shows that Likud would still win as many as 30 seats in Israel's parliament (Knesset) even if Mandelblit chooses to initiate a hearing on the premier's potential indictment before voters take to the ballot box.
February 21 is the official deadline for parties to register their candidate lists with Israel’s Central Elections Committee, and it is possible that Mandelblit will recommend a pre-hearing indictment before that date.
Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party has accused Israel’s left-wing of attempting to pressure Mandelblit to pursue conviction, while members of Israel’s center-left opposition have criticized those loyal to Netanyahu for attempting to obstruct justice by threatening the country’s top legal authority.
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