Report: After Hearings, Bribery Charges Unlikely in Two of Three Netanyahu Cases

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. (Flash90)

With the hearings on the corruption and bribery charges faced by Binyamin Netanyahu now over, State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit will now consider the evidence – and the defense of Netanyahu’s attorneys during the hearings – and decide whether to recommend that indictments be filed against the prime minister, and on what charges.

According to reports Motzoei Shabbos, the evidence presented by Netanyahu’s attorneys was at least partially effective, and has convinced Mandelblit that bribery charges in at least two of the three cases against him are likely to fail. In the third case, the reports said, police are convinced they can make a case against Netanyahu, although Mandelblit has yet to decide about that case.

The investigations against Netanyahu include Case 1000, in which Netanyahu is accused of accepting extravagant gifts from millionaire Arnon Milchin, mostly cigars and champagne; Case 2000, in which 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; and Case 4000, also known as the Bezeq-Walla News Case, an influence-peddling probe that alleges that Netanyahu offered his good services to Israeli billionaire Shaul Elovich in return for positive coverage on the Walla news site.

Case 4000 has apparently fallen apart, after Netanyahu’s attorneys – including American civil rights attorney Nathan Lewin – presented Mandelblit with numerous international court opinions that positive coverage in a news outlet cannot be considered a material benefit, as there was always a counterbalance to the coverage in the form of “equal time.” Channel 13 said that Case 2000 also has fallen apart, with Netanyahu’s attorneys presenting solid evidence that there was no case. The best prosecutors will be able to do in both cases, according to the reports, is charging Netanyahu with breach of trust.

In Case 1000, police, along with the Tax Authority enforcement officials, are more confident that they can make a bribery charge stick, Channel 13 said, as the benefits that Netanyahu received were “very clear and direct.” The prosecution’s case is also supported by strong witnesses, the report said.

On Motzoei Shabbos, thousands of people gathered outside Mandelblit’s house in Petach Tikvah, demanding that the charges against Netanyahu be dropped. The protesters were holding signs accusing the prosecution of trying to engineer a coup against the will of the people, while speakers denounced the media and prosecution as tools of the “deep state” seeking to thwart the results of recent elections, in which the rightwing has emerged as the dominant political group. Police said that two protesters were arrested for failing to follow directives on where to stand during the protest.