Kristine L Ming

Netanyahu exempted from criminal probe into alleged scandals at his residence

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein late Thursday night ordered a criminal investigation into the affairs surrounding the Prime Minister’s Residence, but specifically exempted at this stage Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from criminal suspicion.

A Justice Ministry statement said that most of the investigation and the announcement of its findings would wait until after the election, to avoid the cloud of politicization.

The statement added that there was less of a rush, as even if criminal actions might be involved, they were considered “lightweight” and not more serious violations.

The State Comptroller’s Report on the issue from last week, and reports this week about evidence brought forth by former Prime Minister’s Residence employee Meni Naftali, appear to suggest that the focus of the probe could be Prime Minister’s Office deputy director-general Ezra Seidoff, with the prime minister’s wife, Sara, possibly also in the crosshairs.

The late night decision capped a dramatic week of revelations and speculation, most of which Weinstein missed while in England for three days, at a major global conference of legal and judicial officials celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.

Weinstein’s decision adopted the state attorney’s recommendations on the issue.

The Justice Ministry made no specific reference to allegations as to which of the affairs: Bottlegate, Furniture Gate, Electrician Gate or possible new mixing of state and private finance issues revealed by Naftali, were at the center of the investigation.

Earlier this week, The Jerusalem Post surveyed a range of experts, none of whom believed Bottlegate could possibly carry criminal charges.

Naftali, who has been questioned several times over the last week, already has partial immunity and may get full immunity to turn state’s witness against those under investigation.

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