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Court Near Ruling on Indicting Prime Minister in Bar-on Affair

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Israel’s High Court of Justice is expected to rule next week on whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzachi Hanegbi should be indicted on charges of fraud and breach of trust.

The case stems from the influence-peddling scandal surrounding the short-lived January appointment of Roni Bar-On as attorney general.

The court heard arguments last month and said the ruling would be issued at a later date.

A three-month police investigation was launched earlier this year after an Israel Television report alleged that Bar-On was appointed as part of a deal to provide a plea bargain to Shas Knesset member Aryeh Deri, who is on trial for corruption.

In turn, Deri allegedly promised his party’s support for the Hebron agreement, which was coming up for Cabinet approval at the time, the television report said.

Police investigators had recommended that Netanyahu and Hanegbi be indicted, but Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein and State Prosecutor Edna Arbel decided in April that there was insufficient evidence against the two men and that only Deri should be indicted.

At the hearing last month, the five-justice panel of the high court rejected a number of other petitions requesting a state commission of inquiry into the Bar-On affair and asking that the police report on the investigation be published.

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