Indictment of Israel PM in ‘public interest’, AG Mandelblit

Tel Aviv [Israel]: In a decision that may have a far-reaching impact on the future of Israeli politics, Israel’s Attorney General on Friday rejected a Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to postpone indictment in the graft charges against him, until general elections in April.

The Times of Israel cited a letter sent to Netanyahu’s legal team, in which the Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said that there was “no impediment whatsoever to publishing a decision, however impactful it may be, on filing an indictment against the prime minister, subject to a hearing, before the election date.”

“This process has already been decided, even before the decision to advance the elections, and there is no justification to deviate from it,” Mandelblit said.

Mandelblit is likely to indict the Israeli Prime Minister in three graft cases, one, in which the latter had accepted gifts from billionaire friends and the second, over trading positive media coverage for advantageous legislation for a newspaper.

The third time, the Israeli Prime Minister was accused of allegedly favouring the country’s largest telecom giant ‘Bezeq’ in return for more positive coverage of him and his wife, on Bezeq’s subsidiary news website, Walla.

The Prime Minister, however, last year had clearly stated that he would not resign even if he is indicted by the attorney general under one or any of the corruption charges against him. Denying the three corruption charges against him, Netanyahu cited legal procedure while asserting that the law doesn’t require him to step aside before any hearing.

Last week, Netanyahu’s attorneys had asked Mandelblit not to announce the indictments as it would amount to an “intervention” in the elections slated to be held on April 9.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu in a statement on Thursday responded to media reports, ahead of Mandelblit’s letter, saying, “It looks like the attorney general has given in to the pressure from the left and the media to file indictments against Prime Minister Netanyahu no matter what — and during the campaign.”

“The ink [on the request] has not yet dried when the prosecution rushed this evening to leak that they have no intention to examine these vital witnesses,” Netanyahu added to his statement.