האם גם מנדלבליט, כמו גרסטל, קיבל הצעת שוחד ממקורבי נתניהו לפני מינויו לתפקיד היועץ המשפטי? חשד כבד עולה מהתנהלותו בפרשת מעונות ראש הממשלה
Now that two of the corruption cases against Bibi Netanyahu have progressed beyond the investigation stage, it’s important to anticipate what comes next in those cases and the ones which remain under investigation (Cases 3000, 4000 and 1270). In Cases 1000 and 2000, the Israeli police have recommended to the attorney general that he commence a case against Netanyahu and several of those suspected of bribing him (including billionaire Hollywood producer and ex-Mossad asset, Arnon Milchan).
The AG, Avichai Mandelblit, is a former intimate of Netanyahu himself. He was his cabinet secretary in an earlier government. Under most circumstances (i.e. in other western democracies), the closeness of their relationship would raise eyebrows. Say, for example in the UK, the AG would be forced to recuse himself given the closeness of their relationship. Here in the U.S. we saw our AG, Jeff Sessions, recuse himself from the Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, when he failed to reveal several meetings he had with senior Russian officials.
But that hasn’t happened regarding Mandelblit. Raising further concerns–in the only cases regarding the Netanyahus for which he has made provisional decisions about prosecution, he relieved tremendous legal pressure on Israel’s First Family. These are known in Israel as Parshat Ha’M’onot (the Residence Cases). Sara Netanyahu has flagrantly ignored Israeli law concerning her management of her private residence. There were four different sets of charges against her amounting to financial fraud in the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars. After the police recommended pursuing the cases for prosecution, Mandelblit did move one set of charges to the pre-indictment stage, where it now stands. But he dismissed the other three charges. The only charge that remained was the one which posed the lightest penalty if convicted. Mandelblit has also managed to drag out the cases for years.
No less a figure than former Shin Bet chief, Yuval Diskin has raised serious concerns about Mandelblit’s clear conflict of interest in these cases. Though Diskin is known to intensely dislike Netanyahu and disagree with his security policies, he’s never made any pronouncement about Mandelblit. That renders him a relatively independent source in this matter.
Remember that in one of the latest developments in these corruption cases (1270), a future Supreme Court chief justice and a now-retired regional court judge recounted that Bibi’s fixer, Nir Heifetz, approached the judge, Hila Gerstel, with a proposition: if she threw out the case against Mrs. Netanyahu, then the latter’s spouse would agree to name her attorney general. Gerstel, who never reported the attempted bribe to the police, nevertheless rejected the approach.
Who eventually got the job? Mandelblit. So, if one of the main candidates for the job, Gerstel, was approached with a bribe offer, why wouldn’t Mandelblit have been as well? So far, this is a question we can’t answer definitively. Unlike in the other corruption cases, no one has come forward as state witness who can shed direct light on the matter.
But we can get some sense of the credibility of the claim based on Mandelblit’s actual performance. So far, the outlook isn’t good. The only case in which he approved prosecution is still at the pre-indictment stage years after the supposed illegal acts. We now have two additional cases in which the police have recommended prosecution. Mandelblit must now make a determination regarding both of them. He has as long as a year to do so. If he strings this process out endlessly and then dismisses charges in most of the cases and leaves a few of the lesser charges extant, you will know that the fix is in.
However, there is a counterbalance: a growing number of Israeli anti-corruption activists have protested regularly outside Mandelblit’s home, seeking to hold his feet to the fire. Some activists even protested during religious services outside his synagogue. This drove the Likud loyalists crazy, claiming that disrupting a religious service amounted to a desecration of Jewish traditions. The claim is nonsense. Though it would be unusual to make a political statement or protest during a religious service, Israeli rabbis and Orthodox politicians and generals exploit religion on behalf of their political ideologies on a regular basis. They would deny to Israeli activists a prerogative they regularly arrogate to themselves.
These weekly protests have been persistent, but they’ve remained relatively small. If the nation begins to suspect that Mandelblit is in cahoots with Netanyahu, this could turn into a major protest movement like the social justice campaign known as J14. Such movements have, in the past, toppled governments and led to the resignations of senior ministers. Thus, it is possible that people power could force Mandelblit to act against his any previous corrupt pledge he may’ve made to Netanyahu.
The main point to be made here is that the people should not have to make such protests. A transparent, truly honest legal system would’ve guaranteed the designation of a figure with no conflict of interest to make all decisions regarding the Netanyahu prosecution. Thanks in large part to Netanyahu’s disdain for ethical standards, Israel’s is neither honest nor transparent. It is as corrupt as the rest of society’s major institutions (politics, army, commerce, even journalism). So the people must fight, against inertia and suffocating decay, for the bare minimum of justice.