Former state attorney Moshe Lador has gone for the jugular in the probes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Lador has repeatedly told the The Jerusalem Post that Case 1000, the Illegal Gifts Affair, and Case 2000, the Yediot Aharonot-Israel Hayom Affair, were clear-cut cases for indictment – not close calls as the current prosecution has presented them.
He has expressed frustration at the slow pace of the public corruption investigations in several interviews with the Post that were off the record. But this weekend, Lador finally went public on all these issues with Haaretz, forcefully and in detail.
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, he said, should decide to indict Netanyahu in a period of weeks – at most, a couple of months.
Lador portrayed Case 2000 as Yediot’s publisher offering Netanyahu a suitcase with $1 million to help him harm the newspaper’s rival, Israel Hayom, and said everyone should know this was bribery.
However, he has told the Post that the election value of having a huge newspaper like Yediot completely switch from being anti- to pro-Netanyahu in one fell swoop was worth far more.
The former state attorney said that Case 4000, the Bezeq-Walla Affair, which also involves media bribery allegations, has greatly strengthened the basis for indicting in Case 2000, where the police have already recommended to indict.
Likewise, with Case 1000, confronted by Netanyahu’s defense that he was long-time friends with the billionaires who gave him “gifts,” Lador has been adamant to the Post, as he was in his weekend on-record interview, that the cigars and champagne should be called “illegal benefits” and that using the word “gifts” already was telling a lie.
He said just because Netanyahu might have been friends with the oligarchs does not save him from that point at which those gifts became serial, constant and even pressed for by Sara Netanyahu.
Lador said all of the Likud agrees with him that Netanyahu is too distracted by his criminal probes to continue managing the country.
Confronted by the statements of other party leaders who say Netanyahu is ultra-focused and “on” in cabinet meetings, Lador said, “How do they know this? Because his lips don’t tremble during the meetings?” The question is whether the probe is impacting how Netanyahu views the national interest on key issues, he stated, arguing that it was impossible not to distract his focus in that respect.
Why did Lador finally go on the record now after staying off-record with the Post, Haaretz and possibly others over an extended period?
Clearly, Lador thinks it is now crunch time in the Netanyahu probes.
He is concerned that Netanyahu might go to elections and somehow use them to try to stay in office, no matter what Mandelblit decides.
Accordingly, he wants Mandelblit to decide to indict Netanyahu before elections in order to corner him into stepping down.
What is dangerous about Netanyahu, Lador said, is that he cannot be accused of being anti-right-wing.
As state attorney, Lador aggressively took down former prime minister Ehud Olmert, and in doing so, essentially paved the way for Netanyahu to replace him.
Further, Lador’s public support for Mandelblit helped him get the attorney-general job at a time when many legal scholars said Mandelblit was too close to Netanyahu, having served as his cabinet secretary.
Lador is the prosecutor’s prosecutor. His views on this case likely represent the views of a significant majority of state prosecutors.
Having helped Mandelblit get his job, Lador’s public push could put heavy pressure on the attorney-general how a decision to close the cases can be portrayed as being supported by the prosecution establishment as a whole.
In that sense, Lador went for the jugular. The vibe from Mandelblit’s office was that at least in terms of speed, Lador’s comments would not force their hand. Time will tell regarding his impact on their final decision.