Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s lawyer notified the attorney general Monday evening that his client will attend a hearing scheduled for early October on corruption allegations, after the attorney general turned down a request for a delay.
At the same time, the attorney, Amit Hadad, made it clear that the request for a delay was justified due to the heavy paperwork involved in the case and the fact that he was the only lawyer representing the prime minister.
Moreover, the convening of new elections, after the previous ones failed to produce a government, should also have been taken into account, Netanyahu believes.
“The new elections constitute exceptional circumstances to which exceptional attention must be accorded,” Netanyahu argued last week in his appeal for the delay.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, however, responded that after due consideration, “nothing justified granting the request to change the dates fixed for the appearance.”
The refusal to comply with the prime minister’s request for an extension was severely criticized by Likud MK Miki Zohar, who said it was a direct result of pressure brought to bear on the attorney general by the left and the media. “The nonstop pressure on the attorney general to decide on the matter of the prime minister … as if it were the most important thing facing the State of Israel,” is absurd, Zohar told Army Radio. “It is the most important issue to the left.”
Netanyahu faces possible indictment for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. He is requesting permission to finance his defense with the help of overseas donors, but has been denied twice by the State Comptroller’s Office – which his lawyer, Hadad, says contradicts its approach to “any other public figure.”
Last month, Mandelblit postponed from July to October the date by which Netanyahu needed to respond to the allegations against him.