Shortly before he passed away this week, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s lawyer and confidant, Yaakov Weinroth, recommended that he should resign rather than undergo a court trial on corruption charges against him, Haaretz reported on Thursday.
Weinroth reportedly outlined a plan for the prime minister: following victory in the next elections (which polls have been predicting), he should step down from office, while seeking a plea bargain with the authorities that would ensure him a lenient arrangement.
In addition, Weinroth confided in friends that PM Netanyahu could announce a “historic” political achievement before retiring, such as a peace agreement with an Arab country, that would further enhance his reputation and help secure leniency.
Weinroth and his firm were involved in defending Netanyahu in two cases in which the prime minister is accused of receiving illicit gifts and engaging in illegal quid pro quos.
Police have already recommended that Netanyahu be indicted for bribery in these cases, called 1000 and 2000, but Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is reportedly waiting for police to finish a third corruption investigation, case 4000, before deciding whether to file an indictment.
Meanwhile, Mandelblit responded to pressures on him to expedite those cases. While declining to specify a date for concluding the matter, he indicated that it would be in the near term.
“But I do know that the efforts to delegitimize the work of the State Attorney’s Office and my own as the head of the prosecution will only intensify” as a decision approaches, he said, during remarks at a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the State Attorney’s Office.
Mandelblit rejected allegations of bias that have come from within PM Netanyahu’s Likud party:
“Last week the claim was heard that ‘in certain respects’ the Justice Ministry is ‘Sodom’ and on another occasion it was claimed that the [State] Attorney’s Office allegedly has a political bias and even chases after the prime minister,” he said.
He called such claims “unacceptable” and aimed at pressuring prosecutors from issuing an indictment. He likened them to “parallel efforts that request a decision to prosecute at any cost, even before the investigations are finished and regardless of their results.”
Despite the difficulties, Mandelblit pledged that “we will always march straight in the path of the law.”