TEL AVIV – A senior Israeli official on Monday urged the attorney general not to be influenced by the media or the political left, who might lead him to make a rash decision regarding an indictment against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the April 9 elections.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan warned Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit that doing so could result in an undemocratic change in government.
“If Mandelblit says he is planning to file an indictment, does a rushed job and as a result of his position a few [Knesset] seats switch and the government is replaced, it will be a serious blow to democracy,” Erdan, an ally of Netanyahu, said, according to The Times of Israel.
Mandelblit is expected to announce his plans regarding an indictment on graft charges in the three investigations against Netanyahu later this month. The actual charges cannot be filed until after the prime minister is given a hearing, which would only take place after elections.
Netanyahu has said the investigations are part of a joint media, police and left-wing witch hunt to topple his premiership. He has also charged the attorney general with making a hasty decision due to pressure from the left.
Mandelblit this month turned down a request from Netanyahu’s legal representatives to postpone the announcement until after elections.
If Mandelblit announces his intention to indict, Netanyahu’s Likud party would likely lose four or five Knesset seats in the next elections according to polls. However, Likud would still remain at the top. Netanyahu has said he will not step down if Mandelblit makes the announcement.
Police have recommended Netanyahu be indicted for bribery in all three cases against him.
The so-called Case 4000 involves Israeli telecommunications company Bezeq. The prime minister is accused of ordering that regulations on Bezeq be eased in return for the phone company’s chief shareholder Shaul Elovitch giving Netanyahu positive coverage on his news site Walla.
Case 1000 charges Netanyahu and his wife Sara with receiving illegal gifts from billionaire benefactors, including Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer.
In Case 2000, Netanyahu is suspected of striking a deal with media mogul Arnon (Noni) Mozes whereby the premier would weaken the Sheldon Adelson-backed daily Israel Hayom in return for more favorable coverage in Mozes’ Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. In his defense, Netanyahu said that he specifically voted against the law that would have weakened Israel Hayom, risking his political career in 2014 and calling new elections because of it.