AG said still weighing bribery charge for Netanyahu

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is reportedly still contemplating whether to charge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with bribery in the most serious of the three corruption cases against the premier.

In the probe, known as Case 4000, Netanyahu is suspected of pushing regulatory decisions financially benefiting the controlling shareholder of the Bezeq telecommunications group, Shaul Elovitch, in return for ongoing positive coverage from Bezeq’s Walla news site. It is the most serious of the three cases against the prime minister, carrying possible charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

Even if the bribery charge will be included in Mandelblit’s announcement, expected by early next week, it is likely to be watered down, Channel 12 news reports today, without citing sources.

The report says Mandelblit had not yet made the decision, or at least hasn’t let his staff know about it. It estimated that in any case there will be a difference, possibly a significant difference, between the allegations as laid out in the 57-page document Mandelblit published in February and the eventual indictment.

The bribery charge “will be watered down and will undergo a ‘diet,’ perhaps a significant one,” reporter Guy Peleg says.

More specifically, he says, the bribery charge will focus only on the regulatory decision to approve a merger deal between Bezeq and satellite TV provider Yes, and other decisions said thus far to be part of the alleged bribery deal will be excluded.

— Michael Bachner

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit speaks at a Justice conference in Tel Aviv, on November 4, 2019. (Flash90)