AG denies ‘unprofessional considerations’ in investigations of politicians

AG denies ‘unprofessional considerations’ in investigations of politicians

Comments apparently directed at speculation that prosecutors could seek stiffer penalty for PM on corruption charges if he appoints Supreme Court critic as justice minister

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit at conference at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan on March 28, 2019. (Flash90)
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit at conference at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan on March 28, 2019. (Flash90)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Sunday strongly denied that prosecutors seek to bring criminal charges against politicians who pursue policies or make appointments of which they disapprove.

“In recent days, there have been different reports about unprofessional considerations regarding various appointments. I would like to make it as clear as possible that these reports have no basis. There was nothing like this and won’t be anything like this,” Mandelblit said at an event honoring the IDF’s Military Advocate General.

“The principle of national, non-political and impartial work is a cornerstone of the work of all the legal bodies operating in the service of the state — a fundamental principle that constitutes a condition without which we cannot serve the public and protect the rule of law,” Mandelblit said.

His remarks appeared to refer to speculation by analysts for Channel 12 news over the weekend that prosecutors could seek a more severe penalty for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if he is tried and convicted on corruption charges should he appoint Likud minister and Supreme Court critic Yariv Levin as justice minister.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) with Tourism Minister Yariv Levin during a Knesset vote on the budget, which coincided with police publishing recommendations that Netanyahu be indicted for bribery and breach of trust, February 13, 2018. Levin has led Likud attempts to push for legislation defining Israel as, above all, a Jewish state. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Netanyahu is leaning toward appointing Levin to the position, Channel 13 news reported Sunday.

Amnon Abramovitch, a Channel 12 commentator, said his remarks were made in jest. Abramovitch is a reporter and prominent commentator who has covered the criminal investigations into Netanyahu.

In February, Mandelblit announced his intention to indict Netanyahu on charges of fraud and breach of trust in three separate cases, 1000, 2000 and 4000, and for bribery in the last of the three, pending a hearing. The prime minister denies the allegations and says the cases are part of a political witch hunt designed to oust him, involving the left, the media and the police pressuring a weak attorney general.

State prosecutors are also reportedly considering opening a criminal investigation into Netanyahu’s business connections to a multi-billion shekel naval vessel procurement deal which is already at the center of another major graft investigation.

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