Former state prosecutor: ‘Unthinkable’ PM still serving under cloud of probes

Moshe Lador says Netanyahu’s ‘personal considerations are influencing matters of security and diplomacy,’ claims almost no chance he won’t be indicted

Moshe Lador at the Knesset in February 2012. (Kobi Gideon / Flash90)
Moshe Lador at the Knesset in February 2012. (Kobi Gideon / Flash90)

Former state prosecutor Moshe Lador on Saturday said it was “unthinkable” that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was continuing to steer the country while embroiled in multiple corruption investigations, claiming the premier’s every decision was affected by his legal interests.

Netanyahu, he reasoned, should have stepped down already, in order to avoid such a situation.

“It is unthinkable that the prime minister should be…on the one hand handling matters of public interest and on the other handling his personal affairs,” Lador said at a cultural event in Mevasseret Zion. “His personal considerations are influencing matters of security and diplomacy. All of his decisions are affected by his interest to emerge from the probes in one piece.”

He said Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who is to make the decision whether to press charges against the premier, must move the process along as swiftly as possible.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the foreign press on December 19, 2018, (screen capture: YouTube)

Lador, who served in the top legal post between 2007 and 2013 and under whose watch former prime minister Ehud Olmert was charged and convicted of bribery, said he believed there was almost no chance that Netanyahu would not be indicted, in light of the apparent strength of the cases against him.

The former prosecutor also said he was surprised Netanyahu was never investigated as a suspect in Case 3000, the so-called “submarine case,” in which police have recommended prosecutors indict Netanyahu’s former lawyer and other high-profile figures over bribery suspicions involving the purchase of military naval vessels worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Likud party later issued a response to Lador, saying his “one-sided comments join the campaign of leaks and pressure on the attorney general to indict prime minister Netanyahu no matter what, as part of a rigged game.”

Police have recommended indicting Netanyahu for bribery in Cases 1000, 2000, and 4000. Last month it was reported that Tax and Finance Department head Liat Ben Ari, after reviewing police evidence, had made the same recommendation on Cases 1000 and 2000, though there was no word on her position in Case 4000, the last investigation to have been completed by police.

In Case 1000, Netanyahu is suspected of receiving benefits worth about NIS 1 million ($282,000) from billionaire benefactors, including Israeli Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, in exchange for assistance on various issues.

Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid pro quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister hobble a rival daily newspaper, the Sheldon Adelson-backed freebie Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

In Case 4000 Netanyahu is suspected of advancing regulatory decisions as communications minister and prime minister that benefited Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in Bezeq, the country’s largest telecommunications firm, in exchange for positive coverage from Elovitch’s Walla news site.

Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing.

Mandelblit said Thursday that his office will work quickly and efficiently to reach a decision regarding the criminal investigations.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit attends a Knesset State Control Committee meeting on December 3, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

“We will work quickly, but not at the expense of the investigation,” said Mandelblit in an address at the Globes Conference in Jerusalem. “We will not pursue any one person, only justice.”

The attorney general acknowledged the State Prosecution’s Wednesday completion of its work on the three criminal cases against Netanyahu, which reportedly had State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan recommending bribery charges in each.

“I accompanied the process closely. The investigation was carried out with determination and professionalism,” Mandelblit said.

The State Prosecution considers one of the probes, known as Case 4000, to constitute “a clear case of bribery,” while Cases 1000 and 2000 are seen as “bribery lite,” Hadashot TV news reported.

The report said the attorney general’s office aims to reach a decision on whether to press charges in the next few months, and certainly “well before Passover” in mid-April.

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