Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is expected to officially announce in the coming days that he has ordered the Israel Police to launch a criminal investigation against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on suspicion of bribery offenses.
Mandelblit will also announce his decision to close some of the investigations into matters involving Netanyahu which were launched several months ago, due to the failure to find a reasonable chance of proving that an offense had actually been committed, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Thursday.
In his statement, the attorney general will elaborate on the closed cases and explain why it took so long to look into them and why the information had not been disclosed to the public.
The prime minister’s alleged corruption offenses have been investigated by a small team at the National Fraud Investigations Unit for several months now. The information was handed over to the attorney general, who dismissed part of it at first, but later ordered the police to conduct an examination, after which he would decide whether to launch an official criminal investigation and question Netanyahu.
Channel 10 reported Wednesday that Mandelblit had authorized police to question Netanyahu under caution, and that a date for the interrogation would be set in the coming days. Netanyahu will be required to provide explanations for several issues that arose during the preliminary investigation.
In the past few weeks, the investigators apparently managed to obtain testimonies, some related to elements abroad, which point to an alleged suspicion of a criminal offense which requires an interrogation of the prime minister under caution.
Several meetings were held at Mandelblit’s office in the past week in the presence of Meni Yitzhaki, head of police's Investigations and Intelligence Department, and State Attorney Shai Nitzan. In light of the information presented to Mandelblit and the additional information he requested, he was convinced to order an official investigation.
The attorney general has reiterated that he would not approve an investigation against the prime minister unless he saw a real chance for filing an indictment.
An examination of the other cases involving the prime minister revealed that although they do point to inappropriate conduct, no new evidence or testimonies were found to justify a criminal investigation.
The Israel Police and the Justice Ministry issued a joint response to the Channel 10 report on Wednesday, noting: "We cannot comment on the report for obvious reasons, as the examination is still ongoing. This is neither confirmation or denial of what has been alleged. The attorney-general, the police and prosecutors are working in close cooperation and a public announcement will be made in due course about the investigation."
The prime minister has yet to respond to the report. In the past, Netanyahu has vehemently denied the reports on the legal examination concerning him on numerous occasions. "Nothing will come out of it because there is nothing to it," he said.