Following the Jerusalem District Court’s decision to order the State Attorney’s Office to amend the indictment against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Case 4000 (Bezeq-Walla case) and to add details, Netanyahu’s defense attorney, Adv. Amit Haddad, appeared before the camera and stated: “The reason the state did not include The things (in the indictment) are simple: the material reveals that the prime minister is not involved in these incidents at all. “On the other hand, the prosecution responded by saying:” The court ordered a number of amendments to the indictment, and they will be made. “
The two responses, that of the defense attorney and that of the prosecution, do not reflect the full and true meaning of the decision of Netanyahu’s judges. Defense attorney Adv. Hadad’s artificially reinforces the significance of the decision and brings it to distant, almost fictional districts. .
On the other hand, the laconic prosecution’s response conceals the fact that the judges’ decision to amend the indictment could make it difficult for the prosecution to prove Netanyahu’s guilt in accepting a bribe from Shaul Elowitz and has other implications.
It will be recalled that in the 4000 affair, Netanyahu is accused of accepting a bribe from businessman Shaul Alovich, who at the relevant time in the affair was the controlling owner of the Bezeq Group and the Walla website and his wife Iris. According to the indictment, the couple provided biased coverage to Netanyahu and his family on an ongoing and continuous basis that included involvement and reduction to the family’s details in the contents. In return, it was alleged, Netanyahu ordered the Ministry of Communications, headed by Shlomo (Momi) Pilber, who then served as the ministry’s director general and is currently a state witness in the case, to grant regulatory benefits to the Bezeq Group, including promoting Bezeq’s merger deal with yes valued at NIS 1 billion.
“Abnormal response” to the coverage requirements
The most significant thing the court has decided is that the prosecution must make a separation between Netanyahu, the defendant in the case, and his family members, Sarah and Yair Netanyahu, who are not accused. This is both in the details of the coverage requirements from the Walla website attributed to each of them, and in the details of the “provision” that is allegedly given to each of them. That is, the way the coverage looks. The judges also demand that the State Attorney’s Office clarify which of the demands of Sarah and Yair Netanyahu were made with the knowledge of the Prime Minister.
The judges also ruled that the prosecution must provide details of the benefits that were allegedly given and taken as bribes in the Bezeq-Walla case. “To provide a list of the benefits that were allegedly given and taken as bribes, and a list of times, as far as these are known, to detail through whom the parties acted,” the panel of judges, Judge Rebecca Friedman-Feldman, ruled. In doing so, the judges accepted the argument that the wording did not allow them to defend themselves properly.
And why is this important in terms of Netanyahu’s defense? Because even in the State Attorney’s Office, they will not disagree that politicians routinely try to influence the way in which their work will be reviewed in the media, and that sometimes their requests are answered. The prosecution’s thesis in the 4000 case is that with regard to the Netanyahu-Elowitz-Walla website, it was an unusual, unprecedented conduct. The indictment states that “the death given and taken in favor of actions related to the public office of defendant Netanyahu: abnormal response to demands regarding publications on the” Walla “website.
The importance of the court’s decision to amend the indictment lies in the phrase “abnormal response.” To simplify things, what the judges are actually saying to the prosecution is: You can not “drop” on Netanyahu the whole mass of coverage requirements of Sarah and Yair from the Walla people and attribute overall responsibility to all of them. In order to attribute to him the whole conduct before Walla or its large part, which means the abnormal conduct of a politician, you will have to prove by signs and examples, in evidence, that he was aware of and involved in these demands.
Unfortunately for Netanyahu and his defense attorneys, when the amended indictment is filed in about two weeks, it will indeed include a list of many coverage requirements, in which Netanyahu was directly involved or by way of a general directive.
There are no “discounts” for the plaintiffs either
The decision of the Jerusalem District Judges regarding the amendment of the indictment against the Prime Minister also has a meaning that is less concrete. To date, the judges have been mostly busy making it clear to Netanyahu that he is the defendant as all the defendants and that they do not intend to make procedural assumptions or allow for procrastination at trial. This is mainly reflected in the judges’ refusal to grant Netanyahu an exemption from appearing at the reading of the indictment and in setting the schedule for the management of the case.
Now, the judges are also making it clear to the plaintiffs that they do not intend to give them discounts or allow shortcuts and that they should avoid vague and general wording. In another part of their decision to amend the indictment, the judges ordered the prosecution to “avoid generalizations and lack of detail under phrases included by the prosecution in the indictment, such as ‘among others’; ‘including’; ‘significant requirements’; ‘various cases’; ‘other employees’, etc. “.
The message conveyed by the three judges of the Jerusalem District Court in their decision to amend the indictment is similar to the message sent by Supreme Court Justice Yitzhak Amit in his ruling in the Holyland case. In this case, former prime minister Ehud Olmert is acquitted of one of the bribery charges in which he was convicted in the district court, but was convicted of bribery on another charge.
“The court does not rule on the basis of images, not on the basis of rumors, not on the basis of ‘but everyone knows that …’, and not for fear that the public will be disappointed,” Amit wrote, adding: “Judge Dan and rules according to the evidence presented “In the courtroom, and not according to interviews of one or another in the media. Even if around the abyss of media and public outcry, even if the media has already decided and ruled.”
To sum up, the judges’ decision to amend the indictment against Netanyahu is not as dramatic as Netanyahu’s defense attorneys tried to paint it, but it is important to them. If the judges continue to conduct Prime Minister Netanyahu’s trial in this meticulous, professional, and equal manner toward both parties, the real beneficiary will be the Israeli public.
*** Presumption of innocence: It should be emphasized that even after the indictment is filed subject to a hearing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denies what is attributed to him, was not convicted of committing an offense, and is presumed innocent.