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Attorney General rejects request to investigate Netanyahu probes

Attorney General Avichai Mandelit on Monday rejected a request to investigate media leaks related to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption investigation, backing his office from an attack by the prime minister's allies.

While noting that he sees such leaks as "serious," Mandelbitt said in a letter to lawyers: "There is no room to investigate or investigate the incidents."

Justice Minister Amir Ohana, who also called for an investigation into the leaks and criticized Mandelblatt and prosecutors over their handling of the Netanyahu cases, criticized the decision as damaging public confidence in the law enforcement agency.

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Mandelblit and Ohana attended an event at the Department of Justice, Tel Aviv University, later in the day, during which they met.

Despite their differences, Ohana and Mandelblatt briefly shook hands at the start of the event.

Addressing the gathering, Mandelblatt referred to the criticism his prosecutors have faced from Netanyahu's supporters – including Ohana – for the trio of investigations the prime minister is facing. Last week, Ohana, a member of Netanyahu's Likud party, accused state prosecutors working under his investigation of having blindly persecuted public officials who felt threatened by their stance as long as they were backed by a "cult" of celebrities. journalists.

"It is regrettable that I have recently come across statements concerning the law and law enforcement agencies and they are misleading," Mandelblitt said on Monday. "When they come from senior figures – things are still worrying."

"I hear things that are not true, some shocking," Mandelblatt said.

The law enforcement agency is not infallible, he acknowledged and may be criticized, but should be "relevant criticism".

"Personal attacks and amazement, absolutely not," said Mandelblitt.

Justice Minister Amir Ocana speaks at a Tel Aviv Ministry of Justice conference on November 4, 2019. (Flash90)

State Prosecutor Hai Nitzan also spoke and explained that the justice system, including the Supreme Court, is wary of launching a media leak investigation because it will require investigative journalists and affect press freedom.

O'Hanna, who spoke to Mandelbit and Nitzan, said that by failing to investigate the leaks, Mandelblit was damaging the justice system.

"This is not like gaining public confidence," Ohana said. "So you can't stop the deteriorating image of the law enforcement service in recent years. There is a time and a place for everything. "

Nitzan admitted that the chief prosecutor in Netanyahu's cases, Liat Ben Ari, should not have been on vacation during his pre-trial hearings, leaving the impression that she had already decided on the matter.

"In retrospect, it should have been done differently," Nitzan said. "We all made a mistake in that. Not because the hearing was compromised, but to continue with appearances. "

Attorney General Hai Nitzan speaks at a Tel Aviv Ministry of Justice conference on November 4, 2019. (Flash90)

The prime minister is suspected of fraud and breach of trust in three cases, one of which also includes suspicion of bribery.

Pre-clearance hearings were held last month, and Mandelblatt is expected to make a final decision on whether to bring charges by the end of the month or early December.

Channel 13 television news reported on Monday that senior justice ministry officials ended up reviewing one of the cases, known as the "Case 1000", and Netanyahu is likely to face fraud and breach of trust charges.

In the 1000 case, Netanyahu is suspected of illegally receiving gifts such as champagne, cigars and jewelry worth about NIS 700,000 ($ 201,000) from the goodwill of billionaire Arnon Milchan and James Packer and allegedly fired back in the case. for help.

According to the report, there is a "consensus" on the indictment, but the final decision will be made only after all three cases have been reviewed.

Officials will now move on to launch a 2000 case, amid allegations Netanyahu spoke to Edi Ahronot newspaper publisher Arnon Moss about a deal in which the Prime Minister would act to exploit the rival's circulation. pro-Netanyahu every day, in exchange for more favorable coverage than Eddie.

There are differences of opinion among prosecutors as to whether to prosecute in the 2000 case, the station reported.

In the 4000 case, Netanyahu is suspected of making regulatory decisions financially benefiting the Bezek telecommunications group's controlling shareholder, Shaul Elovich, in exchange for current positive coverage from Bela Bezek's news site. As the most serious case, Netanyahu faces possible charges of bribery, as well as fraud and breach of trust.

Netanyahu, who denies any crime, has repeatedly claimed to be a witch hunt victimized by the media, left, police and state prosecution, designed to overthrow him.

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