Israel’s attorney general: I charge the prime minister with a heavy heart

Mandelblit said it was a “heavy-hearted decision.”

By World Israel News Staff

Israel’s attorney general says the indictment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a “heavy-hearted decision” based solely on professional considerations.

“Today is a sad day for Israel and for me,” the attorney general said.

Addressing reporters Thursday, Avichai Mandelblit rejected suggestions that the indictment was politically motivated.

He angrily criticized pressure campaigns by Netanyahu’s supporters and foes to sway his decision, which came after months of deliberations. He also criticized the attacks on the courts, police and State Attorney’s Office by the prime minister’s supporters.

“The first charge is based on the investigation in Case 4000. In this case, I decided to prosecute for bribery, fraud and breach of trust,” he said.

In Case 4000, Netanyahu is accused of helping businessman Shaul Elovitch advance his business interests in exchange for favorable media coverage on a site owned by Elovitch.

“In Case 2000, I decided to prosecute for fraud and breach of trust. Although the prime minister did not accept the proposal, he gave [Arnon] Moses the impression that bribing the prime minister is a viable option that can be negotiated. All when the prime minister stood ahead of the elections. The prime minister took advantage of his governing status,” Mandelblit said.

Case 2000 revolves around conversations held between Netanyahu and Moses, owner of Yediot Ahronot, in which the prime minister made it seem that he would be willing to push legislation that would damage a rival newspaper in exchange for favorable coverage.

Of Case 1000, Mandelblit said, “For years, the prime minister and his wife received, on a regular basis and within a real supply line, cigar boxes and bottles of champagne worth a total of hundreds of thousands of shekels. This was done at the same time as the prime minister was working to promote Mr. Milchan’s interests.”

Case 1000 involves gifts Netanyahu and his wife received from billionaires Arnon Milchan and James Packer.

Netanyahu has called the corruption charges a witch hunt and repeatedly lashed out at police and prosecutors throughout the investigation.

Associated Press contributed to this report.