AG rejects fresh Netanyahu request to delay hearings in corruption probes
The AG has granted the premier an extension of three month to October 2-3 from the formerly agreed upon date of July 10. Netanyahu had initially asked for a year long delay claiming his lawyers needed more time to properly prepare their defense material
Israel will go to the polls for the second time this year in September, with the hearing set for early October. Netanyahu, according to a press release from the Justice Ministry of Justice, "will be particularly busy" during the election period and amid the establishment of the next government.
"Under the circumstances, there is no justification for granting the request and changing the dates set for holding the hearing," the attorney general said in a letter to the prime minister's lawyers.
Israel's political situation was flung into uncertainty when, after weeks of negotiations following the April 9 elections, Netanyahu failed to form a viable coalition citing clashes over the draft law for the ultra-Orthodox men between secular and religious lawmakers.
The attorney general has already granted the prime minister a three-month extension from the formerly agreed upon date of July 10 for the hearing. Netanyahu had initially asked for a year long-delay claiming, his lawyers needed more time to properly prepare their defense material.
Netanyahu faces indictment for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in three criminal corruption investigations that have plagued him for years: one in which he is accused of accepting lavish gifts from wealthy benefactors in exchange for government favors, and two in which he is accused of offering benefits in exchange for favorable news coverage of him and his family.
The prime minister has slammed the cases as part of a "witch hunt" orchestrated by the media and political rivals aimed at toppling his right-wing government and has vowed not step down even if brought to trial.
Mandelblit, who was once Netanyahu's cabinet secretary, recommended bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges in Case 4000, in which Netanyahu is suspected of receiving favorable coverage on the Walla! News website in return for regulatory benefits to telecommunications giant Bezeq, which owns the site.
The attorney general also called for charges of fraud and breach of trust in both Case 1000, in which Netanyahu and his family are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from wealthy donors, and Case 2000, in which Netanyahu allegedly tried to negotiate favorable coverage in the Yedioth Ahronoth daily (Ynetnews' sister publication) in return for promoting legislation against rival paper Israel Hayom.
Meanwhile Netanyahu appointed loyalist Amir Ohana, as his justice minister in the interim government.