Mandelblit to announce Bibi indictment decision before April

 Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is likely to announce a decision on Netanyahu’s indictment before April: “Former senior members of the legal system have told Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit he must announce his decision regarding Netanyahu’s cases before the election… The retired jurists reportedly convened last week during an annual conference held in a hotel near Jerusalem. According to the TV report, Mendelblit told those present that announcing his decision to indict Netanyahu, subject to a hearing, before the election was an “obligation to the public.” [HaaretzYnet]

Moran Stern, an Adjunct Lecturer at the Center for Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University, tells us: “This is somewhat of a surprise, because just couple of weeks ago, AG Mandelblit said that he would not publish his decision before the elections so as not to stain the democratic process. Now he, rightfully, claims that it is the public’s right to know the status of the Netanyahu cases before voters cast their voices.

Obviously, this is bad news for Netanyahu which may tarnish his public image and adversely affect his approval rate. That being said, Netanyahu has declared in the past that he has no intention to resign, even if the AG goes so far as submitting criminal charges against him. I certainly do not see Netanyahu changing his behavior if he is to face a hearing before election day on April 9.

For some time now, everything that Netanyahu does and says – his extensive trips abroad; his rhetoric at home; his near-absolute focus on foreign policy at the expense of urgent domestic issues; and even his decision to call for early elections – is nested in the ongoing investigations against him. It is fair to say that Netanyahu uses the Prime Minister’s Office as a shield for his own safety.

I believe that we are about to witness Israel’s most inciting elections campaign to date. Netanyahu – as well as members of Likud – will intensify their depiction of the investigations against him as a well-orchestrated witch-hunt by members of the Israeli Left, the courts, the police, the media, and the law enforcement authorities. Netanyahu will further depict himself as the stainless victim of this scheme. Netanyahu will (and in fact has already began doing so from Brazil) label the expected AG’s decision as ‘undemocratic.’ To his supporters, Netanyahu will convey the message that his future and theirs are tied: if he falls, they fall with him; and that means that the Left will retake power.

I tend to believe that even if Netanyahu’s approval rate is adversely affected by the AG decision, Likud, under his leadership, still has the highest chances of winning the upcoming elections. There are, of course, many reasons for that, but one must understand that in Israeli politics, the party brand continues to play a central role in voters’ behavior.  Likud’s brand remains the strongest, despite or even because of the Netanyahu investigations.”

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