Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Tuesday confirmed in court that he had issued prior authorization for the police investigations into allegations of corruption against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The statement came in response to claims from Netanyahu’s defense team that Mandelblit approved the investigations retroactively, which would invalidate the entire process, since investigations into a prime minister must be cleared in advance by the attorney general.
Mandelblit, in a memorandum from his office, acknowledged that there exists no written record of the authorization, but stated there is no legal obligation to for it to be in writing, as the defense lawyers have asserted. He said he oversaw the process carefully, and has documentation from meetings that show his involvement.
Netanyahu’s Likud party argued in response that the admission of an absence of documentation further weakens the prosecution’s case.
“Up until now, the prosecution claimed that the attorney general’s approval was not part of the investigatory materials and so there was no need to pass it on to the defense attorneys, and now it claims that written approval was never needed at all.
“The prosecution’s response proves the prosecution lied and there was never approval from the attorney general to open an investigation into the prime minister, against the Basic Law of Government, and the investigation against the prime minister is therefore illegal,” Likud said.
The Jerusalem District Court last week ordered prosecutors to hand over Mandelblit’s authorization for police investigations into Netanyahu. The court rejected prosecutors’ argument that the authorizations were not related to the investigation.