Israel’s Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, announced Thursday, that his office plans to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, NBC News reported that the Prime Minister faces one count of bribery and three counts of breach of trust.
The article explains that the case involving the most serious charges against the Prime Minister stem from his, “relationship with Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of Israel’s telecom giant Bezeq.”
The Time of Israel reports that case 4000, alleges that Netanyahu “advanced regulatory decisions that benefited Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in the Bezeq telecom giant, in exchange for positive coverage from the Elovitch-owned Walla news site.”
The article continues, “Mandelblit said that according to suspicions the relationship between Netanyahu and Elovitch was “based on give and take,” and the prime minister’s actions benefiting Elovitch netted the businessman at least NIS 1.8 billion ($500 million) between 2012-2017. In exchange, Elovitch’s Walla news site “published your political messages that you wished to convey to the public.”
The Jerusalem Post offers a time-line of the investigation and includes a breakdown of case 1000, which the Attorney General plans to charge the Prime Minister with breach of trust, and case 2000 in which Netanyahu would be charged with fraud and breach of trust.
The article notes that the Attorney General also said, he plans to indict Elovitch Walla,”for bribery and obstruction of justice as well as his wife, Iris, and a range of other top Bezeq officials.”
The announced plans to indict a sitting Prime Minister, the first time in Israel’s history, comes just weeks before Netanyhu and his Likud party face a tough election against Benny Gantz and the Blue and White Party.
According to The Jerusalem Post “Netanyahu’s Likud party and Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party are neck and neck in the polls, and if the prime minister loses even a few seats due to the accusations against him for public corruption, it could turn the tide.”
In the more serious case 4000, police have said they have interviewed 60 witnesses in 176 sessions. Including state witness former top aide to Netanyahu, Nir Heftez.
According to the article it’s been reported Heftez, “taped the Netanyahu and Elovitch families frequently without their knowledge.”
President Trump was asked about the upcoming indictment of the Prime Minister of Israel during his presser after the abrupt end to his summit with Kim Jong un, and told reporters “I don’t know about his difficulty,” he added, he has been a great Prime Minister. He then talked about the military equipment Israel buys from the U.S. and “pays for.”
Trump says he doesn’t know about Benjamin Netanyahu’s forthcoming indictment on corruption allegations, then adds, “There’s a chance for peace between Israel & the Palestinians… the toughest of all deals… I would love to be able to produce it. We will see what happens.” pic.twitter.com/kO75hwwKuy— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 28, 2019
Netanyahu has denied the charges calling them “vile,” The Times of Israel reported on Thursday.
He went on to blame the media, “the left, and legal clerks,” for putting “inhuman pressure,” on Attorney General Mandelblit, “The attorney general is only flesh and blood, so the pressure from the left succeeded.”
The Likud party said in a statement via The Times of Israel, “A one-sided publication of the attorney general’s statement barely a month before the elections, without the prime minister being given the opportunity to disprove these false allegations, is a callous, unprecedented intervention in the elections. Its goal: to topple the right-wing government led by Netanyahu and establish a left-wing government headed by Lapid-Gantz. That can’t be permitted.”
The statement went on to the call the investigation and charges, “a political witch hunt.”
As the article notes, this is not the final decision on the indictment, “Netanyahu will have an opportunity to overturn it in a hearing expected to take place in the months following Election Day on April 9. The process could take up to a year.”
For What it’s Worth: The Jerusalem Post notes that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit became the Attorney General in 2016, with the backing of Netanyahu. As the article explains he was viewed as being close to the Prime Minister, “in fact, the two were considered close enough that some of the judicial selection committee members voted against Mandelblit’s candidacy, viewing him as too close and potentially conflicted if Netanyahu got into legal troubles.