JERUSALEM (JTA) – Benjamin Netanyahu’s attorneys will get a few extra months to come up with arguments on why the corruption cases against the Israeli prime minister should be dropped.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit agreed to postpone the pre-indictment hearing until October. The hearing had been scheduled for July.
Netanyahu’s attorneys had asked Mandelblit for a year’s delay because of the large number of documents to review. The attorneys only recently picked up the documents, which have been available since days after the national elections in April. The investigation files were not made available until after the election to prevent leaks to the media.
Mandelblit said waiting a full year would “harm the vital public interest of making a decision in the cases as soon as possible.”
In February, Mandelblit announced his intention pending the hearing to indict Netanyahu in three separate cases on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust for allegedly trading lucrative official favours for gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars – the first time a sitting prime minister would face criminal charges.
Likud lawmaker Miki Zohar filed legislation on Monday that would automatically grant the prime minister and other lawmakers immunity from prosecution. As the law stands now, a lawmaker can request that his fellow lawmakers grant him immunity.
Netanyahu has denied all the charges and called the investigations a “witch hunt” by the political left and the media.