Minister warns AG not to meddle in elections by announcing Netanyahu charges
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Minister warns AG not to meddle in elections by announcing Netanyahu charges

Gilad Erdan says if voters are swayed by ‘rushed job’ it will result in an undemocratic change in government

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, speaks during a press conference for the foreign media, in Bnei Brak, February 3, 2019. (Flash90)
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, speaks during a press conference for the foreign media, in Bnei Brak, February 3, 2019. (Flash90)

A senior minister on Monday urged the attorney general to not be swayed by pressure from media or the political left into prematurely announcing graft indictments in any of three cases against the prime minister.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, a top ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warned Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit that making a hasty decision before April 9 elections could result in an undemocratic change in government.

“If Mandelblit says he is planning to file an indictment, does a rushed job and as a result of his position a few [Knesset] seats switch and the government is replaced, it will be a serious blow to democracy,” Erdan said at a conference in Jerusalem.

Mandelblit is currently reviewing the cases and is expected to announce whether he plans on indicting Netanyahu later this month. He cannot file charges against the prime minister until after a hearing, which would have to take place after elections.

Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing, and has claimed the investigations are part of a media, police and left-wing witch hunt aimed at ousting him.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on February 3, 2019. (Ronen Zvulun/Pool/AFP)

Earlier this month, Mandelblit rejected a request from Netanyahu’s legal team that sought to postpone the announcement until after elections.

Netanyahu has accused Mandelblit of rushing to a decision because of pressure from the left, calling his case the most important in Israeli political history.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit attends a State Control Committee meeting in the Knesset on December 3, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Polls have shown Netanyahu’s Likud party losing four or five Knesset seats should Mandelblit announce he intends to indict, but still remaining the top vote-getter.

Police have recommended Netanyahu be indicted for bribery in the three separate cases, including one that involves accusations he gave out regulatory favors in exchange for positive media coverage.

Netanyahu has vowed not to step down if Mandelblit announces that he intends to indict him, pending a hearing, in any of the cases against him, asserting that the law does not require him to do so. Mandelblit has confirmed that this is the case.

However, leaders of other parties may balk at agreeing to form a coalition with him if an indictment is hanging over his head.

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