The Likud party led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has escalated its campaign against the judiciary and Attorney General, Avichai Mandelbit ahead of Netanyahu’s corruption trial on Sunday, which Mandelblit ordered late last year.
The minister in charge of liaising between the government and the Knesset, MK David Amsalem of the Likud slammed Mandelblit, describing him as “allegedly a criminal” over his involvement in the Harpaz scandal of 2010.
The Harpaz affair refers to the 2010 scandal which involved Mandelblit who was the Israeli army’s chief lawyer at the time.
Mandelblit was briefly suspected of having helped the military plan a cover up for a smear campaign.
The case against Mandelblit was eventually closed, despite a police recommendation to charge him.
“There is no dispute among the Israeli people that Avichai Mandelblit is allegedly a criminal,” Amsalem told Israe’s Army Radio.
“There are recordings, there is no need for analysis or Supreme Court judges, there is no need for the gang of leftists and pundits and professors from all faculties,” he added.
Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn of the Blue and White party slammed Amsalem remarks saying he has full confidence in Mandelblit.
“Government ministers are allowed to issue criticism that is to the point, but unrestrained attacks cross a red line,” he said on Twitter.
Likud MK Shlomo Karai said Mandelblit has crossed a red line adding that the attorney general has been hiding behind a wall of gag orders, in reference to the Harpaz case.
“We will continue to echo this fact to the public until Mandelblit advocates freedom of information when it comes to him and asks to lift the gag order or go home,” he said.
On Wednesday, the Jerusalem District Court rejected Netanyahu’s request to skip the start of his corruption trial, requiring him to appear for the opening hearing on Sunday, the Jerusalem Post reported.
“The rule is that a defendant is present for the reading [of the indictment], which is the opening of the trial. This is the case in every criminal procedure including the current criminal procedure,” the judges wrote in their ruling.