Mandelblit: PM Will Not Need to Abdicate During Corruption Trial

YERUSHALAYIM -
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said on Thursday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will not be obliged to vacate his position when his corruption trial opens in January 2021.

“The indictment was filed against the citizen, Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu, and attributed to him personally, and not against him as prime minister. The indictment was certainly not filed against a political party,” Mandelblit said.

“As I told the High Court – his tenure as prime minister on trial is possible under a very clear conflict of interest arrangement, which prevents the incumbent from influencing his personal criminal affairs by exercising his governmental powers.”

“Such a conflict of interest arrangement will guarantee a complete separation between the tenure of Mr. Netanyahu as prime minister and the powers conferred on him within this framework and his personal handling of the criminal proceedings in his case.”

Mandelblit also rejected attacks on the judicial system that claim the criminal charges leveled against Netanyahu are a part of a conspiracy to oust him.

“There is no political prosecution system in the State of Israel,” the attorney general said. “I firmly reject the attempt to turn defense claims regarding legal proceedings, whose place is in court, to claims of political persecution that are thrown into the ether out of a clear goal to delegitimatize the entire process. I said it before and I’ll say it again, we are not against a specific person, we are for revealing the truth.”

The attorney general also heavily criticized personal attacks on officials involved in Netanyahu’s trial.

“I also strongly reject the malicious attempts to threaten or harm the good name of those involved in the handling of the indictment filed in this proceeding,” he said. “If anybody expects the prosecutor’s professionalism to be affected in any way by personal attacks, then I would like to announce here that they are wrong. We will continue to act solely out of material considerations, in accordance with the law, and not out of any other consideration.”