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Attorney General to decide on Netanyahu cases before election

Israel’s Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, has said he will announce his decision whether or not to indict Prime Minister Netanyahu before elections are held on 9 April.

Israel’s Hahadashot News reported last night that Mandelblit held a meeting last week with former Attorney Generals and Supreme Court justices to discuss the Prime Minister’s corruption charges, among other issues. Mandelblit told the gathering that: “Publishing the decision before the elections is our duty to the public that is going to vote. I will make a paramount effort to complete the work forthwith.” If the Attorney General agrees with the Police recommendation to indict the Prime Minister then Netanyahu would be entitled to a hearing to contest the charges before the case proceeds.

According to the report, those present at the meeting unanimously supported the decision to announce whether or not to indict Netanyahu before the elections. The conference attendees included State Attorney Shai Nitzan; former Supreme Court presidents, Aharon Barak, Dorit Beinish and Meir Shamgar; the former Supreme Court vice president, Elyakim Rubinstein; former state attorneys, Edna Arbel, Moshe Lador and Gabriel Bach; and Mandelblit’s predecessors as Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein and Yitzhak Zamir.

The Justice Ministry said: “The meeting was set up several months ago and was held for the second consecutive year. Different legal issues which are on the public agenda came up at the meeting.”

Netanyahu said, during his visit to Brazil, that: “Israel is a country of law, and the law does not require that a prime minister resign during the process of a hearing. The hearing doesn’t end until my side is heard. And therefore it is not logical to open a hearing process before elections if you can’t finish it before elections. Imagine what happens if you oust a prime minister before the end of the hearing process, and at the end of the hearing it is decided to close the case. That would be absurd, and a terrible blow to democracy.”

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak tweeted: “Boom! Bibi’s finished… The firm stance taken by the ‘formers’ has sealed Bibi’s fate. The suspect from Balfour is going to leave the stage in disgrace. It’s uncertain whether he will lead the Likud on April 9. All in all this is sad, but is nevertheless a first sigh of relief.”