State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit is “extremely unlikely” to make his recommendations on whether or not Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should be prosecuted in any of the corruption cases he has been implicated in during the coming week. Sources in Mandelblit’s office quoted in Maariv blamed Netanyahu’s attorneys for engaging in “delaying tactics,” designed to prevent Mandelblit from making his recommendations before February 20.
That is the date parties need to finish their lists of candidates and submit them to the Central Elections Committee – and the official start of the Knesset election campaign, with limitations on candidates to be interviewed in the media, and for parties to advertise freely. If Mandelblit makes his recommendations after this date, the sources said, he will be accused of “gross interference” in the election process – and his hands will be essentially tied until after the election.
The sources said that “in recent weeks Netanyahu’s attorneys have been sending letters and filing motions on all sorts of small issues. This is a well-known strategy for dragging the process out, but because of the sensitivity of the issues, prosecutors were very careful to examine each of these motions in order not to ‘pollute’ the legal process. The attorneys are currently working on a very long motion which will only be presented to Mandelblit next week. They have already threatened to petition the High Court it Mandelblit tries to make his recommendations after February 20th.”
With that, the sources admitted that Mandelblit still has some work to do on the cases – especially in case 2000, in which the State Attorney is said to be unsure of the validity of the evidence. In Case 2000, the prime minister allegedly leaned on the publishers of Yisrael Hayom to limit distribution of their free newspaper in order to benefit from better coverage in rival newspaper Yediot Acharonot.