Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit responded to attacks launched by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against him, the judicial system, and the state prosecution at the opening of his corruption trial on Sunday.
"The prosecution will conduct a criminal proceeding in this case as it would in any other – in a professional manner and within the walls of the court," Mandelblit said in a statement released after the adjournment of the opening session of Netanyahu's trial.
"We will not be cowed by attempts to attach suspicion to our motivation, which remains to protect the rule of law. These attempts must be condemned," the attorney general said.
Netanyahu alleged the criminal charges against him for felonies bribery, fraud, and breach of trust were part of collusion to oust him of office and subvert the will of the voter.
“Elements in the police and State Prosecutor’s Office banded together with left-wing journalists… to fabricate baseless cases against me,” the premier said before the opening of his trial. “The goal is to oust a strong right-wing prime minister and to banish the right-wing camp from the leadership of the country for many years.”
Netanyahu directed a personal attack at the attorney general, alleging that Mandelblit had been pressured to prosecute the prime minister in order to avoid a criminal probe into his own conduct while he served as head of the Military Prosecution.
"What is he hiding?" Netanyahu asked speaking to journalists before his trial.
Mandelblit was alleged to have been involved in 2012 in an illicit attempt by then-Chief of Staff and now-Justice Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to thwart the candidacy of current-Education Minister Yoav Galant as IDF chief of staff.
Netanyahu's trial will resume on July 19 after his lawyers requested sufficient time to study more evidence provided to them by the prosecution.
Netanyahu is on trial along with the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth, Arnon Moses, and Media mogul Shaul Elovitch and his wife.
First published: 19:35 , 05.24.20