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Israel AG will make pre-election decision on Netanyahu probe: report

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, sits next to Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelblit during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Sunday, May 19, 2013
AP Photo/Ronen Zvulun, Pool
A poll released last week showed the majority of Israelis believe Netanyahu should step down if indicted

Israel’s Attorney General is reportedly expected to finish reviewing investigations and decide on whether to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in three alleged corruption cases before the April 9 national elections.

A source close to Mandelblit told Haaretz daily that the Attorney General will publicize his decision in February.

Mandelblit himself declined to give comment on the timing of his announcement, but said, “It’s no secret that we’re trying to work as quickly as possible.”

The decision will “in no way [come] at the expense of professionalism,” he told Haaretz.

Netanyahu 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.”

(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

In multiple videos posted to social media, the Israeli premier has urged Mandelblit not to start any court proceedings before the elections in April.

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.

“It is unacceptable that the public will only hear the claims of one side and not the other,” Netanyahu said last week.

Meanwhile, a poll released by the Jerusalem Post last week revealed that more than half of Israelis believe Netanyahu should resign from his position if charged with criminal offenses.

However, a more recent 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.

Jack GUEZ (AFP/File)

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.

At least two cases of vandalism directed at Mandelblit are being investigated by police as suspected threats intended to pressure the attorney general either to exonerate Netanyahu or bring him to trial.

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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