The Justice Ministry on Friday said there was no credibility to the claim by the Likud Party that a criminal case was secretly closed against Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn over alleged irregularities in the 2017 leadership race at the Histadrut labor federation.
Likud claimed on Friday that there was a secret deal between Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and Nissenkorn, in which the former secretly closed a criminal case against the latter in return for freezing the tenure of the acting state attorney who was said to be investigating his boss.
In fact, a criminal case was never opened in the investigation into allegations of election fraud in the 2017 vote at the Histadrut. The investigation was widely reported at the time.
Defeated leadership candidate Shelly Yachimovich alleged that supporters of Nissenkorn had tampered with results, intimidated voters, systematically removed voters from polling stations, falsified results and engaged in widespread corruption.
Police did not find any basis to justify opening a criminal case and the probe ended five months later. The investigation was formally closed in May 2020, shortly before Nissenkorn, of the Blue and White party, was appointed justice minister, the Haaretz daily reported.
The Justice Ministry responded to the report, telling Haaretz that there was no basis behind the claim by the Likud Party.
“After an initial investigation, it was decided that no basis had been found for opening an investigation into the matter, and it was shelved according to the opinions of all parties in the investigations department, the State Attorney’s Office and with the approval of the Attorney General,” the statement read. “For the avoidance of doubt, and in order to prevent incorrect publications, we emphasize that Minister Nissenkorn is not suspected of any offense.”
A key ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday that questions should be asked about why the investigation was not immediately, formally closed.
“The story is not the investigation or its opening, but its closure,” Internal Security Minister Amir Ohana told Channel 12 news. “What happened here? It has been three years since the police recommended that the investigation should not be proceeded with — three years of holding the case and not closing it.”
Ohana also raised the issue of Mandelblit’s unprecedented clash, with then acting state attorney Dan Eldad, with the attorney general reportedly convinced that Eldad and Ohana were bent on ousting him from his post, possibly at the behest of Netanyahu.
“Eldad, who did his job faithfully, began to test something against Mandelblit,” Ohana claimed. “Doesn’t that evoke skepticism in you?”
The Blue and White party responded to the interview, describing Ohana as “contract killer for the liquidation of the justice system.”
Netanyahu last month launched a scathing, unprecedented attack against Mandelblit, whom he appointed and who served previously as his cabinet secretary, accusing the attorney general of being part of a deep-state conspiracy aiming to oust the premier for political reasons.
Mandelblit indicted Netanyahu last year on charges of fraud and breach of trust in three criminal investigations, as well as bribery in one of them. The cases center on accusations that Netanyahu received illegal gifts and traded political favors for positive news coverage.
Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing, and claims without evidence that the left-wing opposition, media, police and state prosecution have conspired in an attempt to frame and oust him in a political coup.