Attorney general backs police procedure in Netanyahu probe

The Israeli Justice Ministry pushed back after Israeli media reported criticism over the recommendations to indict the prime minister on bribery charges.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit reacted on Thursday to attacks on the police department’s recommendations Tuesday to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Mandelblit’s office at the Justice Ministry put out a statement declaring that the Attorney General and State Attorney’s Office “are working in full coordination and excellent cooperation with the Israel Police” and that “the publication of the police regarding the completion of their investigation into Cases 1000 and 2000 was done in complete coordination with the attorney general.”

Case 1000 is based on gifts of jewelry, champagne and cigars given to the prime minister and his wife by wealthy friends, which allegedly influenced Netanyahu to try pass certain laws in their favor. Case 2000 is about the more favorable press Netanyahu allegedly desired from Yediot Ahronot owner Arnon Mozes in exchange for putting legal limits on the paper’s biggest rival, Israel Hayom.

The attorney general, who has the final say on whether to indict Netanyahu, had sharply criticized the police for rushing to recommend that the attorney general indict Netanyahu on bribery charges, Israel’s Hadashot news reported on Wednesday. According to the report, the State Attorney slammed the police for putting it in an impossible situation by “blowing up the balloon of their recommendations to its fullest, and now any stepping back from them will seem as a collapse. The case isn’t ready, and more investigation will be required.”

Netanyahu himself called the recommendations “extremist” and “full of holes like Swiss cheese.”

The furor aroused by the publication of these serious charges on both sides of the political fence has led to calls for calm by some lawmakers. Speaking from the Knesset podium Tuesday, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said, “The public will not decide, nor will the journalists or the politicians and their statements. Rather, in the case of elected officials, only the attorney general’s stance determines if there is enough evidence for an indictment. I suggest we stop all the pressure, the attacks and the accusations on all sides.”

Speaking at the Local Government Conference of KKL-JNF in Tel Aviv, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) publicly put her faith in the integrity of the attorney general.

“The fact that he was a defense attorney, a prosecutor, a judge and cabinet secretary gives him experience and a broad view,” she said. “I know Mandelblit and State Attorney Shai Nitzan well. I trust them to make a clean, immaculate, professional decision.”