Mandelblit says state comptroller report ‘contains material that should be reviewed without delay’; he also calls personal criticisms against his predecessor unacceptable and says he (Weinstein) has contributed ‘so much to Israel’.

At an event in Tel Aviv Tuesday evening, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit spoke about State Comptroller Yosef Shapira’s report on “Bibi tours”, which suggested the possible criminal liability of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his conduct during his tenure as finance minister. He said, “The report contains material that should be reviewed without delay and an investigation should be carried out swiftly.”

“In the few months that I have served as (attorney general), I have not hesitated to open investigations when necessary, including against public officials. There is one law for all. No one wants to jump the gun, but if the evidence justifies bringing someone to trial, I will not hesitate,” said Mandelblit.

Additional documents related to Netanyahu’s travel that are raising concerns of criminal liability were sent to Mandelblit, the only person authorized to open a criminal investigation. This afternoon, Yedioth Ahronoth published that the comptroller has already asked the attorney general to look into the suspicions six months ago, and is now accusing Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and his predecessor Yehuda Weinstein of dragging their feet on the matter in an effort to “cover up” the affair.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit (Photo: Moti Kimchi)


Mandelblit also came to the defense of his predecessor, Yehuda Weinstein: “In the past few hours, I have heard unacceptable statements in the press on a personal level regarding my predecessors. I strongly reject these statements against someone who has contributed so much to Israel in his six years of work.”

The “Bibi tours Affair” first came to light five years ago in an investigative report by Channel 10’s Raviv Drucker. During his tenure as finance minister under former prime minister Ariel Sharon, Netanyahu traveled abroad 15 times. Seven of those flights were funded by the Finance Ministry and the rest were funded by outside sources. According the comptroller’s report, 1.5 flights were funded by foreign governments, two flights were funded by Jewish organizations, and 3.5 flights were funded by Israel Bonds, an organization funded by the Israeli government.”

“It’s inappropriate that when a minister goes abroad on an official trip funded by the government, an outside party also pays for the trip,” Shapira wrote in his report. “Furthermore, if a minister’s trip is funded by an outside source, it is not appropriate for his wife or children’s expenses to be funded by a third party, especially one that has no connection to the purpose of the trip.”

In 2013, the comptroller sent documents related to Netanyahu’s travels abroad to the attorney general for further investigation. In September 2014, then-attorney general Weinstein determined he “did not find cause to launch an investigation into suspicions of criminal activities by Mr. Netanyahu,” and as a result of that, he informed the state comptroller that he has finished his examination of the issue.

In a press release, the state comptroller said that he has continued his audit and in the process of it has came across a handful of other issues in addition to more evidence regarding previously known issues. He added that he sent documents to the attorney general in May and December 2015 regarding double funding, money diversion, and the ambiguity surrounding Netanyahu accumulating rewards points on El Al for work related trips and then using them for private trips. He also mentioned that there are some relevant issues that he has been prevented from investigating for this report

As reported by Ynetnews