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Attorney general tells court he approved PM’s probes, but not in writing

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit tells the Jerusalem court where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is standing trial that he authorized the police investigations into the premier.

But Mandelblit indicates there’s no written record of the approval, telling the court there’s no legal obligation to authorize the criminal investigations in writing. He says he oversaw the process carefully, and has documentation from meetings that underline his involvement.

The Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday ordered prosecutors to hand over Mandelblit’s authorization for police investigations into Netanyahu.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, speaks with then-cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, September 21, 2014. (AP/Menahem Kahana, Pool/File)

The court’s ruling applies to Cases 1000, 2000 and 4000 against the prime minister, after lawyers for Netanyahu alleged that permission for the criminal probes — which must be granted by the attorney general — was given retroactively. Netanyahu’s attorneys have argued that if written authorization was not given, all the charges against him must be dropped.

Lawyers for the prime minister had asked the court to cancel the criminal indictment against the premier, alleging the attorney general hadn’t authorized in advance the probe that yielded the corruption charges for which Netanyahu now stands trial, but only did so after the fact.

The State Attorney’s Office has said that “the authorizations to open an investigation were given at two meetings, one on December 25, 2016, and the other on January 5, 2017.”

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