The high involvement of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan in the police investigations of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mean that both public officials, who must decide whether to indict the PM and on what charges, are thoroughly familiar with the case material and recommendations they received from the police on Tuesday.
Nevertheless, the State Prosecutor’s Office will hold many meetings before reaching a decision, and may even initiate additional investigations to complete the cases.
This suggests that the road to an indictment or a decision not to indict will be very long, under a completely different timetable than what is common in Israel’s criminal prosecutions.
Liat Ben Ari, the Tel Aviv District Prosecutor for Taxation and Economics, is also expected to have a major role regarding file 1000. She accompanied this case personally, and took an active participant in some of the investigations, including traveling to London to interrogate billionaire businessman Arnon Milchan.
Mandelblit is expected to officially receive the files (1000 and 2000) against the prime minister on Wednesday, but was in possession of the investigation material Tuesday, concurrent with the police announcement of its recommendations. Now begins the next phase – the hearing.
Before the hearing, each suspect and their attorneys receive all the investigation material and is allowed sufficient time from the state to prepare for the hearing, usually three to four months. But in a case where a sitting prime minister is the potential defendant, Netanyahu’s attorneys will be demanding at least double that time to prepare. It makes sense, the PM is an exceptionally busy man and not always the master of his own schedule.
All of which means the defense will likely ask and receive eight to ten months before it is ready to come to hearing sessions with the state prosecutors. Which could take us to the end of 2018, certainly past Rosh Hashanah 5759. And there’s no telling how the hearing period would be affected should Netanyahu choose to disperse the Knesset and call for new elections.
In keeping with the famous Chinese curse, then, we’ll be living in very interesting times.