Attorney General Avichai Mandelblatt will hold talks next week to decide by the end of November whether to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a series of investigations, Israeli television reported on Friday.
Talks will be highly focused on the 4000 case, considered the most difficult of the three criminal cases facing Netanyahu, with the prosecution discussing potential defense team remarks on a bribe charge, according to an unpublished Channel 13 news report.
Mandelblatt is likely to rule that Netanyahu could not be prime minister if he is accused of bribery, the report said, noting that Mandelblatt would indeed decide to level the indictment against Netanyahu.
Criminal charges would not be an obstacle to Netanyahu's bid for re-election if Israel was forced to another round of months amid a political deadlock, the report said.
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.
Netanyahu faces charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in the case. He also faces charges of fraud and breach of trust in two other cases, named 1000 and 2000.
According to Channel 13, when Netanyahu met on Sunday with blue-white party leader Benny Ganz for the first time since the latter was in charge of forming a coalition last week, the two discussed whether the prime minister should take a leave if convicted. .
Netanyahu told Ganz that the Likud party would not vote to replace him, even before an unprecedented third round of elections, the report said.
"Don't drag your feet or build me to topple me [by Likud]. After all, we will go to the polls and you will be the one overthrown, "Netanyahu said.
After both Ganz and Netanyahu were unable to secure a majority with their allies in the Sept. 17 election, President Reuven Rivlin proposed a unity government in which power would be equally divided and Netanyahu and Ganz serving two years as prime minister. Rivlin implied, but did not specify, that Netanyahu would take open leave if or when he was indicted on one or more of the probes facing charges. Under Rivlin's arrangement, Ganz, as a "temporary prime minister" in such a scenario, would enjoy all prime ministerial power.
According to a report by Channel 13 on Thursday, state prosecutors have begun drafting a legal opinion recommending Netanyahu's trial in all three cases, following a hearing last month.
Prosecutors believe Mandelblatt should keep the original charges proposed unchanged in all three cases, not convinced by defense efforts during the hearing to drop the charges, the report said.
Mr Mandelbit began consulting with state prosecutors on Sunday to decide whether to indict Netanyahu in three corruption cases.
Following the hearing, Channels 12 and 13 both cited unnamed sources saying some of the Mandelblit team were inclined to reject the most serious bribery charge in the 4000 case, though both reports emphasized that the decision was ultimately Mandelblatt's.
The public prosecutor announced the draft indictments at length in February.
Netanyahu, who denies any crime, has repeatedly claimed to be a victim of witch hunting by the media, left, police and state prosecution, designed to overthrow him.
On Friday, Channel 12 reported that Nir Shefec, a former Netanyahu spokesman and key witness in the 4000 case, told investigators Elowic repeatedly pushed for the dismissal of communications ministry director general Avi Berger in a bid to promote his company interests.
Berger opposed the acquisition of "Yes" by the Eurocom Group-owned "Yes" satellite TV provider Elovich. The deal eventually went ahead and is said to have earned Elovich hundreds of millions of dollars.
Scheffec told police that Elovich was "pushing [the issue] hard There were conversations with me about it – that Bibi should fire [Berger] already … because he is the one who prevents it … he is the one who blocks the contract Yes. "
It was clear that Elovich wanted the message to be conveyed to Netanyahu, Scheffec said, adding that he was often a mediator between Netanyahu and Elovich over Walla's coverage.
Evidence from the case indicates that Netanyahu's coverage of Vala was constantly changing and softening at the request of the Prime Minister's family.