Bibi: I Won’t Resign If Attorney General Announces Intention to Indict
In his most specific comments to date on the prospect of corruption cases forcing his ouster, “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said he would not resign if the attorney general decides on pressing charges against him before elections.
Asked during a press conference in Brazil, where he is on a visit, how he would proceed if summoned by the attorney general for a hearing, which is final step before charges are filed, Netanyahu said: “If that happens, I won’t resign”.
He said he was not required to do so under the law, and that he remains convinced that the three corruption cases against him will yield “nothing”.
“The law does not require that a prime minister resign during the process of a hearing,” he said.
Should Attorney General Avichai Mandeblit decide to press charges against Netanyahu, he would announce the indictment pending a hearing, after which charges could be filed with a court.
The requirement for the attorney general to provide a hearing for a suspect before a final decision to press charges against him, Netanyahu said, exists precisely so that the suspect’s side of the story is heard. “The hearing doesn’t end until my side is heard,” he said.
“And therefore it is not logical to open a hearing process before elections if you can’t finish it before elections.”
“Imagine what happens if you oust a prime minister before the end of the hearing process, and at the end of the hearing it is decided to close the case,” he said. “That would be absurd...”
Netanyahu’s public comments on Monday followed reported remarks last week in which he was said to have told his inner circle that he believed Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit “won’t dare” to announce charges against him before the national ballot.
Even if he is indicted, Netanyahu — who has been implicated in three criminal cases — will not cave to public pressure to step down as premier and fight the charges as a private citizen, the report in the “Israel Hayom” daily said Thursday. Instead, if elected, he will remain in the top job throughout his public trial, the paper, considered pro-Netanyahu, quoted him as saying.
The law does not clearly state that a prime minister who has been indicted must resign. Rather, it says he must step down only after he has been convicted of an offense that carries moral turpitude, like bribery or breach of trust, and the appeal process has been exhausted.
The Knesset can ask the prime minister to step down before that process is complete, but if it does not, he can, in theory, remain in office.
According to the “Israel Hayom” report, Netanyahu is planning on doing just that, and would even fight a potential “Supreme Court” decision that he must step down.
Police have recommended Netanyahu be indicted in each of the three probes against him. Of the cases in which Netanyahu is suspected of illegal activity, the one known as Case 4000 is considered by the “State Prosecutor’s Office” to be the most serious, according to “Israeli” television reports.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team