ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 138

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Attorney general said to want Netanyahu to resign if indicted

Report says comments are Mandelblit’s personal stance, not official legal position; under Israeli law, a PM doesn’t need to step down if charged

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and then-cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 5, 2015. (Emil Salman/Pool/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and then-cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 5, 2015. (Emil Salman/Pool/Flash90)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit reportedly believes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should resign if he is indicted on corruption charges.

Under Israeli law, a prime minister does not have to resign if charged in a criminal case, only if he is convicted. Coalition members have said Netanyahu, under investigation in three graft cases, should not step down if indicted.

A Channel 10 report Wednesday said Mandelblit personally wants Netanyahu to resign if he is charged, but stressed this is not his official legal position.

There was no official confirmation of the report. Mandelblit has previously spoken of false reports circulated by interested parties relating to the investigations.

Mandelblit, who served as Netanyahu’s cabinet secretary before becoming attorney general, has been accused by critics of foot-dragging in probes involving his former boss.

He has defended his handling of the cases, as well as the conduct of police in the investigations. Netanyahu and his supporters have excoriated legal authorities amid developments in cases involving the prime minister.

Last month, police recommended Netanyahu be indicted in a pair of corruption investigations, known as cases 1000 and 2000.

In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, amounting to some NIS 1 million ($282,000) worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian resort owner James Packer, in return for certain benefits.

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

He has also been questioned in Case 4000, which involves suspicions he advanced regulation benefiting Bezeq telecom’s owner Shaul Elovitch in exchange for flattering coverage from Bezeq’s Walla news site.

Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing in all cases.

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