Prof. Aviad Hacohen, dean of the Sha'arei Mishpat Academic College, on Sunday responded to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s decision not to postpone the decision in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's cases until after the elections to the 21st Knesset.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Prof. Hacohen said, "From a legal point of view, there is no reason why an Attorney General cannot publish recommendations at any given moment. But about 20 years ago, an Attorney General wrote that during an election period, one must be very careful to ensure that the Attorney General does not find himself taking part in the election campaign.”
"This is a constant guideline which states that the Attorney General must not take part in the election campaign," he explained.
He added that this directive is no longer relevant in the present situation, because any decision that Mandelblit will make will affect the elections. "In our case, any decision he makes or does not make, even a decision not to publish the recommendations, is also considered to be taking part in the elections, because leftists will come and say that he is not publishing the decision because he is trying to influence the election in Netanyahu's favor.”
"By the way, even if he publishes the recommendations, it is not clear who will benefit, there is the assumption that the publication of the recommendations will actually benefit Netanyahu, who is ostensibly the one being persecuted. It should be noted that in the case of Aryeh Deri, who even had a conviction, Shas won 17 seats. In our case, an indictment will in any event not be filed before the elections. What will be published is only recommendations that will not be final, since a hearing will be held only after the elections,” continued Prof. Hacohen.
"Therefore, if the Attorney General intends to publish the recommendations, it is better that it be done as early as possible. The closer we get to election day, the more problematic the publication of the recommendations will be, and I stress - not in the legal aspect but in the public aspect of public visibility and trust. I imagine that if he submits the recommendations two days before the election, everyone will think it’s wrong, and if he had done it half a year ago, the claims would not have been as great."
Prof. Hacohen said that it is to be hoped that the Attorney General's decision will be based on facts rather than public atmosphere and demonstrations against him. "We are a democratic country, there have always been demonstrations, as was the case in the Katzav affair when women's organizations demonstrated outside the court. We also saw right-wing demonstrations against the law enforcement authorities in the arrest of the youths. We should all hope that the decision makers in the judicial authorities, including the Attorney General, the State Attorney and the judges, can neutralize as much as they can and make their decisions without the demonstrations affecting them.”
Listen to the full interview with Prof. Hacohen (in Hebrew):