Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Sunday rejected a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attorneys that they be given all the investigation materials in the criminal cases against the premier, noting that in accordance with the law, that will only be possible once the indictment is filed in court.
The formal filing of the charges, which were announced in November by Mandelblit, is being delayed by Netanyahu’s request that the Knesset grant him immunity from prosecution in the three corruption cases, and a subsequent political and legal battle over whether a key parliamentary committee can convene during an election period to quickly discuss — and likely reject — the request.
So long as Netanyahu’s immunity request is not brought to a vote, Mandelblit cannot begin trial proceedings against him.
Netanyahu’s lawyers, Yossi Ashkenazi and Amit Hadad, had argued that they needed all the material for the sake of their arguments in favor of the immunity request.
“According to the balance determined in the law, the full investigation material is handed to the defendants only when the indictment is filed in court,” said Mandelblit in his response.
“Many investigation materials have been handed to you,” he added, “including all the interrogations of the suspects, hundreds of witness statements, tens of thousands of pages of questioning protocols and more, which constitute the core of the investigation material in the cases relating to the prime minister.”
The attorney general concluded that the documents currently held by Netanyahu’s defense team “include everything needed for the immunity request and much more than that.”
Netanyahu reacted to the decision with a statement repeating many of his talking points relating to the cases: “How can one fight for the truth if they are concealing the investigation materials indicating blackmail of state witnesses, selective law enforcement and trumped-up legal precedents? They’re continuing to conduct themselves without transparency, and apparently want to reach a foregone conclusion.”
Mandelblit in November announced his intention to indict the prime minister in three corruption cases. Netanyahu is charged with fraud and breach of trust in all three cases, as well as bribery in one of them. He denies wrongdoing and has accused police and state prosecutors of an “attempted coup” against him.
In Case 1000, involving accusations that Netanyahu received gifts and benefits from billionaire benefactors including Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan in exchange for favors, Netanyahu is charged with fraud and breach of trust.
In Case 2000, involving accusations Netanyahu agreed with Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes to weaken a rival daily in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth, the premier is charged with fraud and breach of trust, while Mozes has been charged with bribery.
In Case 4000, widely seen as the most serious, Netanyahu is accused of having advanced regulatory decisions that benefited Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in the Bezeq telecom giant, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, in exchange for positive coverage from the Elovitch-owned Walla news site.
In that case, Mandelblit has charged both Netanyahu and Elovitch with bribery.