JERUSALEM (Jun. 15)
The Bar-On affair may finally be over. Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected Sunday an appeal to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of fraud and breach of trust.
The justices ruled 4-1 that prosecutors had made a “reasonable” decision when they decided in April that there was not enough evidence to indict Netanyahu in connection with the short-lived January appointment of Roni Bar-On as attorney general.
By a 5-0 vote, the court rejected petitions demanding that Justice Minister Tzachi Hanegbi also be indicted in connection with the affair.
Netanyahu welcomed the court rulings, saying they had once and for all brought an end to the affair that has dogged his government for months.
“We can move forward now, and focus on achieving peace and security and economic prosperity,” he told reporters.
The one justice dissenting from Sunday’s ruling, Dalia Dorner, wrote that the state attorney should have been ordered to show cause for the decision not to indict the prime minister.
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 — as well as senior aide Avidgor Lieberman and Shas Knesset member Aryeh Deri — be indicted in connection with the influence-peddling scandal.
But Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein and State Prosecutor Edna Arbel decided in April that there was insufficient evidence against Netanyahu and Hanegbi, and that only Deri should be indicted.
An investigation of Lieberman’s role in the affair continues.
Last month, the high court heard petitions from opposition lawmakers who challenged the attorney general’s decision.
The court said at the time that its ruling would be issued at a later date.
At the hearing last month, the five-justice panel of the high court rejected petitions requesting a state commission of inquiry into the Bar-On affair and asking that the police report on the investigation be published.