(January 6, 2019 / Israel Hayom) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu harshly criticized the left and the media in a video message published on Thursday evening in which he said that they are “putting brute, inhumane pressure on the attorney general and the cabinet to file indictments against me at any cost, even when there is nothing there.”
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is currently reviewing police recommendations to file corruption charges against the prime minister in three graft investigations. Netanyahu has stated that he has no intention of stepping down, even if he faces a criminal indictment.
“That pressure has reached new heights in the past few days. They are trying to force [Mandelblit] to grossly intervene in the election by summoning me for a [pre-indictment] hearing, when it is already known that any such hearing couldn’t be completed before the election [on April 9],” said Netanyahu.
“Hearing procedures cannot be started before the election if they cannot be completed by the time the election is held. It is unthinkable that the public would hear only one side’s arguments and not the other sides’ responses.”
“After all, the responses [provided in pre-indictment hearings] have frequently led to cases being closed in the past. This is precisely why no hearing has been started before an election if it couldn’t be completed by voting day,” said Netanyahu.
According to Netanyahu, his opponents are seeking to oust him from power without relying on the ballot box. The prime minister accused the left of having one clear goal: “to remove a prime minister through a public trial and stealing the election from the Israeli public.”
“How did one Likud member put it? ‘They know that our team always wins, so they’re trying to pressure the referee to take Messi [referring to the Argentine soccer superstar] out of the game.’ ”
Meanwhile, Judge (ret.) Oded Mudrik, who recently joined Netanyahu’s defense team, told Israel Hayom on Thursday that “in the past few days, various reports are being published that seek to influence the attorney general to file [an indictment] before the election his opinion about the investigations involving the prime minister.
“The question of the timing of the publication has to do with the most important public issue of preventing unfair influence on the voters,” said Mudrik.
The judge emphasized that “the concern over undue influence stems from the fact that the attorney general’s decision is nothing more than an interim conclusion and requires a hearing. The hearing is a significant, weighty process—it’s not a cosmetic procedure. During the hearing, the attorney general is presented with arguments and clarifications that could have a dramatic effect on his decision. It’s happened in the past.
“Announcing that a hearing has been called during the election, without holding it, would necessarily influence voters, but based on a partial picture that is not final,” said Mudrik. “Delaying the publication of the interim conclusions will not damage the legal process and would ensure a democratic, appropriate election.”