Dershowitz publishes open letter defending Netanyahu in corruption cases

Alan Dershowitz defended Netanyahu in a letter in Haaretz on Wednesday, arguing that indicting him endangered Israeli democracy.

By World Israel News Staff

Famous U.S. attorney Alan Dershowitz came to the defense of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an open letter addressed to Israeli Attorney-General Avichai Mandleblit, which was published in the Israeli daily Haaretz on Wednesday.

In the letter, Dershowitz argued that indicting the prime minister put Israeli democracy at risk. “To bring down a duly elected prime minister on the basis of an expansive and unprecedented application of a broad and expandable criminal statute endangers democracy,” he wrote.

According to reports, Mandelblit will announce his decision on whether or not to indict Netanyahu on Thursday. Following the announcement there will be a hearing to determine whether to advance to the next step and bring the case to court.

Netanyahu has spoken out publicly against a pre-election indictment, arguing it would negatively impact his electoral chances in April, and that any decision about whether to indict should be made only after the elections.

Netanyahu faces three cases – dubbed 1000, 2000 and 4000. In the first, he’s accused of accepting cigars and champagne from two billionaires, Australian James Packer and Israeli Arnon Milchan, in exchange for favors.

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However, it’s not clear what the billionaires received in return for their gifts and in at least two cases Netanyahu worked against the business interests of Milchan. Perhaps for this reason it appears Netanyahu will not be indicted in this case.

“The accusation is that Netanyahu took too many such gifts and made too many favors in return. But how many are too many? The law doesn’t say,” Dershowitz wrote. “No one should be charged with a crime unless he has willfully crossed a bright line and plainly violated a serious criminal statute.”

In Cases 2000 and 4000, Netanyahu is said to have negotiated deals for more favorable news coverage of himself.

In Case 2000, Netanyahu allegedly made a deal with the publisher of Yediot Ahronot for better coverage in return for hamstringing a competitor paper Israel Hayom. (Netanyahu claims he did just the opposite, dissolving the Knesset in order to prevent a law that would have damaged Israel Hayom‘s business interests.)

It appears that the State Attorney’s Office also will not pursue Case 2000.

Case 4000, or the Bezeq-Walla! Affair, is the one that most agree will lead to an indictment. The case alleges that Netanyahu forced through a merger between Bezeq, the nation’s largest telecommunications provider, and Yes, a satellite TV company, both owned by Shaul Elovitch, in return for positive news coverage for himself and his family on the Walla! website, owned by Bezeq.

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Dershowitz said in his letter that Cases 2000 and 4000 “pose even greater dangers to democratic governance and civil liberties.”