Three weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hearing by the prosecution, the Taxation and Economics Prosecutor is preparing for a decision on indictments in the pending cases, Channel 13 News reported Thursday night.
It appears that the Prosecutor’s office will recommend an indictment on bribery in Case 4000, and fraud and breach of trust in cases 1000 and 2000.
But a Justice Ministry spokesman said Thursday night: “Let us make it clear, the Attorney General is conducting an orderly and thorough process of examining the allegations that arose in the hearing on the Prime Minister’s case, and only at the end of the process will the decisions regarding the cases be made, and these will be officially announced to the public.
“It must be clarified and emphasized that at this stage, the examination of allegations made by the Prime Minister’s attorneys by the State Attorney’s office and the process is still on. In any case, the prosecution’s recommendations on the matter have not yet been finalized.
“Any publication regarding such and other parties’ positions is purely speculation and assessment only and is solely the responsibility of the ones publishing. We are again suggesting to avoid partial reports and unauthorized information.”
On Sunday, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit will begin the review marathon of the three cases, to decide how much of the prosecution’s recommendations to adopt.
Sources close to the prime minister responded to the report saying it was “yet another biased leak, which severely impairs public confidence in the system. Only in a kangaroo court are the conclusions published before discussing the facts and the claims. When exactly did they (the prosecutors) manage to read and analyze the 1,000 pages submitted by the PM’s legal team just recently? It was not for naught that the prime minister asked to open his hearings to the public, so that all the citizens of Israel and the world’s jurists could realize that these cases are full of holes and hold nothing. One can only hope that the AG will not allow such distortion of justice and truth in the delusional cases filed against the prime minister.”
The hearings which began the day after Rosh Hashanah, started with two days of marathon discussions of Case 4000, which deals with the Bezeq-Walla affair: Netanyahu, in his role as Communications Minister, allegedly ordered his underlings to favor the owner of Israel’s communications giant, Shaul Elovitch, in exchange for good press from Elovitch’s online news website Walla.
The PM’s lawyers argued that “if Netanyahu received positive coverage—which did not happen—he had no intention or awareness of that.”
Prosecutors told News 13 that Netanyahu’s statements failed to convince them that there was no bribery involved.
The prosecutors told News 13 they expect the case would end with a bribery indictment against Netanyahu, or that the case would be closed by the AG.
The third day of the early October hearings dealt with Case 2000, which alleges a bribery deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes.
As part of the deal, Netanyahu sought sympathetic coverage from the paper, in exchange for a series of economic actions to benefit Mozes, most notably his promotion of the “Israel Hayom Law,” which aimed to limit the weekend distribution of the newspaper bearing the same name as the law, which had been created by billionaire Sheldon Adelson for the sole purpose of advancing Netanyahu’s political career.
The fourth and final day of the hearings dealt with Case 1000, the gifts affair involving billionaire businessmen Arnon Milchan and James Packer, where Netanyahu allegedly breached the trust of his office when he used his powers to help Milchan.
The three main charges against Netanyahu in this case concern his intervention on behalf of Milchan to get him a US visa; promoting a law giving returning Israelis tax relief – which would save Milchan a lot of money; and Netanyahu’s push to merge two television networks which would have benefited Milchan.
Netanyahu did talk to US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro and US Secretary of State John Kerry on behalf of Milchan regarding his receiving a US entry visa, but the case is yet to be made that this was as part of a quid-pro-quo deal.