Following Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s decision to indict Welfare Minister Haim Katz (Likud), it is expected that Katz will resign today, Thursday, Resht Bet reported. Mandelblit said it had been made clear to Katz that if he did not resign, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be instructed to sack him.
Justice Minister Amir Ohana (Likud) told Reshet Bet Thursday morning regarding the issuing of indictments against Katz, “I don’t know if it has to be today or tomorrow but it will probably happen soon, that’s the law.”
The indictments state that during his tenure as chairman of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, Katz was influential in promoting legislative procedures and various issues of public concern while at the same time being active in the capital market, and as a result, his portfolio grew by millions of shekels in the relevant period.
A close friend of Minister Katz, capital markets aficionado Mordechai (Moti) Ben-Ari, who is also being indicted, has served since 1999 as an economic adviser to Equital Ltd., a dominant public holding company in the Israeli economy controlling several major companies. According to the indictment, over the years, Katz and Ben-Ari have become the best of friends, and shared mutual economic interests.
According to the indictment, in 2010, with Ben-Ari’s initiation, Katz advanced a bill which directly supported Ben-Ari’s significant economic interests without disclosing their connections. At a meeting of the Knesset committee chaired by Katz, he questioned the witness Ben-Ari as he was a complete stranger.
On the matter of immunity, Minister Katz said he would consider not asking for immunity as an MK in return for a promise of speedy legal process, but such a deal may not be possible since the case management is also dependent on the court.
The indictment will likely not be filed in court before November. The request for immunity is normally debated by the Knesset committee, which currently does not exist, and with elections due in a month, there does not appear to be anyone who could decide on the matter.