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Netanuyahu’s lawyers meet with attorney general on indictment

The lawyers were expected to argue that if the hearing process did not conclude before the election, the public would not be able to hear Netanyahu’s defense, and therefore could be unduly biased by the hearing.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly government conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on Jan 13, 2019. Credit: Amit Shabi/YEDIOT ACHRANOT/POOL.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly government conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on Jan 13, 2019. Credit: Amit Shabi/YEDIOT ACHRANOT/POOL.

Isreli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s legal team—attorneys Navot Tel-Zur, Amit Hadad, Tal Shapira, and Judge (ret.) Oded Mudrik—met on Monday with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in an attempt to dissuade him from announcing his decision to indict Netanyahu in Case 4,000, pending a hearing.

Officials in the legal system think that Mandelblit will summon Netanyahu to a hearing on the case, which involves hefty benefits allegedly offered to Bezeq telecom controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch in exchange for positive coverage of the Netanyahu family on the Bezeq-owned news website Walla, in February.

“Because this is [the attorney-general’s] decision, he decided to meet with Netanyahu’s representatives. He couldn’t hear their arguments any other way,” one official said.

At the meeting, which took place in Mandelblit’s office in Jerusalem, the prime minister’s lawyers were expected to tell Mandelblit that Netanyahu cannot be summoned to a hearing before the April 9 Knesset election if the final decision on an indictment in the case will be made only after the election is over, because doing so could influence the voters.

The lawyers were expected to argue that if the hearing process did not conclude before the election, the public would not be able to hear Netanyahu’s defense, and therefore could be unduly biased by the hearing.

Likud members on Sunday responded harshly to an interview with Mandelblit about the investigations involving the prime minister, which was broadcast Friday evening on Hadashot News. In the interview, Mandelblit announced that he planned to indict Netanyahu. After the broadcast, remarks from Netanyahu were posted to the Likud’s Facebook page.

“It turns out that for a year, the police have not been investigating crimes, but looking for crimes against me. They call that ‘cooking up cases.’ A program like this one, which is broadcast before the attorney-general makes a decision in my matter, is even more disturbing than the embarrassing interview by [former police commissioner Roni] Alsheikh on ‘Uvda,’ right before the police published their recommendations. The choice to cooperate with the program, at this time, is unprecedented in the history of Israeli law and raises serious questions.”

The Likud Facebook page also shared footage of an interview with Labor activist Eldad Yaniv, who is heard saying, “If we hadn’t demonstrated against the attorney general, [the police] wouldn’t have opened a case,” indicating that left-wing pressure on law enforcement is what led to the investigations into alleged instances of corruption.

Coalition chairman Knesset member David Amsalem slammed Mandelblit’s interview as “chutzpah and audacity.”

“Who gave him the approval to be interviewed? I feel embarrassed. This is how an attorney general talks before he needs to make a decision?” posed Amsalem.

Likud Knesset member Miki Zohar said in an interview to Radio Haifa that if Mandelblit decides not to indict Netanyahu, “he will be lynched, not only by the media but personally, by people who will come to his house to protest against him.”

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