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Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit on Tuesday revealed and confirmed for the first time the full classified timeline of his approvals of the investigation of Prime Minister
, citing March 3, 2016 as the starting point.
Mandelblit’s new disclosures come after the Jerusalem District Court ordered him to specify the timeline so that Netanyahu’s defense team could mount all potential attacks on the fairness of the process.
The attorney-general said that his verbal approval was recorded in the meeting internal minutes as well as on March 7 in a separate memorandum which he prepared.
gave an additional verbal approval at a meeting on June 26, 2016, including for interrogating a close associate of Netanyahu’s.
The statement from the Justice Ministry clarifies that these approvals would become the basis of what was later named Cases 1000 and 2000, the Illegal Gifts Affair and the
media bribery affair.
His approvals were recorded both in that meeting transcript and in one other internal ministry memorandum.
On July 6, 2016, Mandelblit approved publicizing a general message to the public that there was an ongoing non-public (no details were given) investigation of Netanyahu, with the actual message going out four days later.
On September 1, 2016, Mandelblit approved additional interrogations in the case, including of Netanyahu.
On December 12, Netanyahu was formally summoned for questioning.
Until now, Netanyahu’s defense team has attacked the prosecution as not having gotten Mandelblit’s approval for its early actions in the case.
The police cannot probe a prime minister without the attorney-general’s approval.
They have cited that detailed public statements from the Justice Ministry only came out in 2017.
Mandelblit’s timeline is designed to rebut these attacks.
The sides are expected to continue to debate whether Mandelblit needed to issue a decision in writing justifying his approval or whether his verbal approval was enough, as he contends.
Netanyahu’s defense team responded by accusing Mandelblit of violating the court’s order to provide copies of the original documents in which he approved the probe of the prime minister, not a mere timeline and paraphrase of those documents.
They said that the prosecution was in contempt of court and that the judges should annul the indictment.
It is unclear whether the court will order the prosecution to turnover all the internal documents referenced in the timeline or to view the new timeline and paraphrase as adequate.