After weeks of rumors and speculation, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit confirmed on Sunday evening that an examination into information regarding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s actions has been covertly going on, as a preliminary step before deciding whether to open a police investigation.
Mandelblit issued a statement saying that “Following information relating, among others, to the prime minister, that was submitted to the attorney general by the Israel Police Investigation and Intelligence Department, the attorney general conducted several discussions with representtives of the State Attorney’s Office, top officials in the Justice Ministry and officials in the Police Investigation and Intelligence Department. Following these discussions, the attorney general has decided to examine the matter.”
The attorney general’s statement raised further speculation that its reference to “among others” could be hinting that the actions of additional people from Netanyahu’s close circle are also being examined. Despite such questions, the attorney general wished to stress that “Presently, only an examination of the prime minister is being conducted, and not a criminal investigation.”
Mandelblit referred to the current buzz around the examination, saying that “The media has recently reported many news items on the examination that were, to say the least, inaccurate. Though we cannot discuss its details, the attorney general is aware of the importance of bringing it to the public’s attention.”
The attorney general stated that the prime minister was informed before the matter was made public.
Shortly after Mandelblit released his statement, Netanyahu released his own, through the Netanyahu family communications advisor Nir Hefez. “Just as past events were ascribed to the prime minister amounted to nothing at all, so will this case, which is completely unfounded.”
The Police Investigation and Intelligence Department is set to decide over the coming week whether to begin an official investigation on Netanyahu based on the information found during current the examination.
Mandelblit was famously recommended by Netanyahu for the attorney general position directly following his position as cabinet secretary, a move that caused a great deal of criticism over his appointment from those fearing he would act on the prime minister’s behalf.
After news of the examination was made public, a top legal expert said that “Mandelblit does not wish to have the examination hinder the prime minister’s performance in his many tasks, which is why he is expected to begin an investigation only if a critical amount of evidence would be uncovered.”
The source continued to say that “If, however, Mandelblit indeed came across such evidence, his main concern would be the interests of the public, and not his own relationship with Netanyahu.”