Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s bid to postpone Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s announcement on a possible indictment on corruption charges until after the April elections came to nought on Thursday, according to media reports.
Mandelblit has turned down a formal request for postponement from the prime minister’s lawyers as the prosecution team has completed its review of the evidence and final decisions regarding indictments will soon be ready, according to reports on Channel 12 and Channel 13.
The attorney general reasoned that delaying the announcement on the grounds that it might hurt Netanyahu’s chances of reelection would itself be tantamount to interfering in the electoral process, Channel 12 said.
There was no immediate confirmation of the report from Mandelblit’s office, but a
condemnation subsequently issued by Netanyahu gave credence to the report.
“It looks like the attorney general has given in to the pressure from the left and the media to file indictments against Prime Minister Netanyahu no matter what — and during the campaign,” the PM’s statement said.
He claimed that in making the decision now, Mandelblit was ignoring a list furnished by his lawyers of 60 names of “significant witnesses” to question before reaching a decision.
“The ink [on the request] has not yet dried when the prosecution rushed this evening to leak that they have no intention to examine these vital witnesses.”
In his statement, Netanyahu repeated his past accusation that the indictment process was being rushed in order to hurt his campaign. “In the most fateful decision in the history of Israeli law, a process that takes a year and a half is being squeezed into a few days,” he said.
The attorney general and senior prosecutors have drafted a letter to Netanyahu’s attorneys clarifying that Mandelblit intends to announce his decision in the coming days — and that letter could be delivered as soon as Friday, Channel 12 reported.