Is­rael pros­e­cu­tor de­nies go­ing easy on Ne­tanyahu

The Myanmar Times - - World -

IS­RAEL’S at­tor­ney gen­eral said he would ap­prove a crim­i­nal probe of Prime Min­is­ter Benjamin Ne­tanyahu if “rea­son­able” grounds were found, coun­ter­ing charges that the two men are too close.

In July, the at­tor­ney gen­eral, Avichai Man­del­blit, said he had given the go-ahead for in­quiries into a “mat­ter” in­volv­ing Mr Ne­tanyahu, defin­ing the case as “an ex­am­i­na­tion and not a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the PM”.

Is­raeli me­dia said it con­cerned sus­pi­cions of fraud and money laun­der­ing against Mr Ne­tanyahu’s for­mer chief of staff, Ari Har­row.

Mr Man­del­blit, who was ap­pointed at­tor­ney gen­eral in Fe­bru­ary af­ter serv­ing three years as Mr Ne­tanyahu’s cabi­net sec­re­tary, has been ac­cused by some me­dia of drag­ging his feet over the case.

Ye­diot Aharonot news­pa­per on Septem­ber 26 quoted ex­ten­sively from an in­ter­view given by Mr Man­del­blit for a com­ing edi­tion of the Is­rael Bar As­so­ci­a­tion’s mag­a­zine in which he says his ac­tions are strictly pro­fes­sional.

“No one has an in­ter­est in de­lay­ing the probe. No one de­rives any ben­e­fit in it be­ing de­layed,” he said.

“If rea­son­able sus­pi­cion comes to light, it will turn into a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion. I don’t care who the sub­ject is.”

At this stage that is not the case, Mr Man­del­blit said, “but the ex­am­i­na­tion is still not over, and changes are al­ways a pos­si­bil­ity”.

Ac­cord­ing to Haaretz news­pa­per, Mr Har­row was sus­pected of in­volve­ment in the fic­ti­tious sale of a busi­ness sup­pos­edly worth US$3 mil­lion.

It is not the first time that the pre­mier’s name has been linked with im­pro­pri­ety, al­though he has con­sis­tently de­nied any wrong­do­ing.

In June, he ac­knowl­edged re­ceiv­ing money from French ty­coon Ar­naud Mim­ran, who was sen­tenced to eight years in jail over a $315 mil­lion scam in­volv­ing the trade of car­bon emis­sions per­mits.

In May, Is­rael’s state comptroller re­leased a crit­i­cal re­port about Mr Ne­tanyahu’s for­eign trips, some with his wife and chil­dren, be­tween 2003 and 2005, when he was fi­nance min­is­ter.

A new row is brew­ing af­ter re­ports Mr Ne­tanyahu had pe­ti­tioned a Jerusalem court to block a free­dom of in­for­ma­tion re­quest from a lo­cal NGO which wants de­tails of his of­fi­cial spend­ing on his fam­ily’s laun­dry made pub­lic.

Is­raeli pub­lic ra­dio quoted Mr Ne­tanyahu as say­ing on his re­turn home from a trip to New York that the “in­ter­est in his laun­dry is sheer pet­ti­ness and even the prime min­is­ter has a right to pri­vacy”. –

Photo: AFP

Pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton (right) shakes hands with Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Benjamin Ne­tanyahu in New York on Septem­ber 25.

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