Alan Dershowitz
Alan Dershowitz Miriam Alster/FLASH90

American jurist and former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz has called on Israel’s Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, to drop the charges against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

In an interview with JNS Tuesday, warned that Israel’s criminal justice system was being ‘weaponized’ for “political purposes” in an attempt to defeat Netanyahu, the country’s longest-serving premier.

“In Israel, the Attorney General is supposed to be outside of politics,” said Dershowitz.

Dershowitz, one of America’s most prominent attorneys, is a member of a high-profile legal team including Nathan Lewin, Richard Heideman, Joseph Tipograph, and Avi Bell which submitted a comprehensive legal brief to the Israeli Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, arguing that the bribery charges in the Case 4000 investigation against Netanyahu represented a major threat to freedom of the press in Israel.

“There has never been a single case in the democratic world in which a public figure was prosecuted, let alone convicted, of the ‘crime’ of receiving a requested ‘bribe’ of favorable publicity,” the brief argued.

One of three cases Netanyahu faces indictments in, Case 4000 revolves around allegations the Prime Minister expedited regulatory changes beneficial to the Bezeq telecommunications company’s owner Shaul Elovitch, in exchange for more positive coverage on the Walla! News website, also owned by Shaul Elovitch.

While Netanyahu also faces fraud and breach of trust in the Case 1000 and 2000 investigations, which revolve around allegations Netanyahu received gifts worth hundreds of thousands of shekels from several businessmen, the bribery charges in Case 4000 are the most severe he faces.

Speaking with JNS, explained the potential dangers to both freedom of the press and Israeli democracy if press coverage could be considered a form of bribery.

“Look, every politician wants good press, every politician wants to avoid bad press, and many politicians are prepared to cast votes in order to get good press and avoid bad press,” said Dershowitz. “Allowing prosecutors to probe the motives of media and politicians is an extremely dangerous road to go down.”

“If somebody were to introduce legislation saying that it is a crime for a politician to seek good coverage and it came for a vote, it wouldn’t get a single vote in the Knesset. And that’s the best proof that it shouldn’t be prosecuted as a crime under today’s law.”

Mandelblit, who announced earlier this year preliminary approval for police recommendations to indict Netanyahu in the Case 1000, 2000, and 4000 investigations, held closed-door hearings in October, as required by law for pending indictments against senior government officials.

The Attorney General is expected to announced in the next few weeks whether he will give final approval for the indictments in any or all of the three cases, or if the charges will be dropped.

Dershowitz seemed optimistic on the chances Mandelblit will drop the charges against Netanyahu, saying the Attorney General “hasn’t made a mistake yet”.

“I’ve known Mandelblit as a fellow lawyer, and I have enormous admiration for him. I’m asking Mandelblit to do the right thing. And I think doing the right thing would be not to charge for Case 2000 and 4000.”