Israel’s attorney general won’t release Netanyahu tapes during police investigation

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandleblit said that releasing recordings of conversations between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yediot Acharonot publisher Arnon Mozes could obstruct the current police investigation into possible corruption.

Mandleblit said during a speech Monday at the Netanya Academic College that he would consider releasing the tapes at a later date, however, due to their public significance.

Netanyahu is currently under investigation in two separate cases, one in which he allegedly received gifts worth hundreds of thousands of shekels from wealthy businessmen which he says were gifts from friends, and one in which he and Mozes discussed a deal in which the Netanyahu would receive favourable coverage in Yediot in exchange for legislation that would cut the circulation of the free Hebrew-language daily Yisrael Hayom.

Excerpts of the tapes have been aired daily since last week by Israel’s Channel 2. The tapes were discovered during an investigation into former Netanyahu chief of staff Ari Harow.

Netanyahu slammed the investigation late Sunday in a Facebook post, which he called:  “A media campaign, unprecedented in scope, orchestrated to overthrow the Likud-led government which I head.” The campaign, he said, is designed “to pressure the attorney general and the police into indicting me for no reason.” He added that “as long as the investigation continues, I can’t defend myself. I can’t tell the public the real story behind the tapes” that shows that there was no wrongdoing.”

“I intend to continue leading the country,” he also said.

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