|14th Attorney General of Israel|
1 February 2016
|17th Cabinet Secretary|
29 April 2013 - 1 February 2016
|Born||29 July 1963|
Tel Aviv, Israel
|Education||Tel Aviv University|
|Years of service||1985-2011|
|Rank||Aluf (Major general)|
|Commands||Military Advocate General|
Avichai Mandelblit (Hebrew: ; born 29 July 1963) is an Israeli jurist who serves as the Attorney General of Israel. Mandelblit had a long career in the Israel Defense Forces legal system, eventually serving as the Chief Military Advocate General between 2004 and 2011. On April 2013, he was appointed Cabinet Secretary. In February 2016, he was appointed Attorney General. In November 2019, following a three-year investigation, Mandelblit formally indicted Israel's sitting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with three charges of fraud and breach of trust, and one charge of bribery.
Mandelblit was born and raised in Tel Aviv. His parents were Baruch (Mickey) and Ada Mandelblit. His father, a clothing merchant and deputy head of the Israel Football Association, was an Irgun veteran and member of the right-wing Herut party. At age 26, Mandelblit became an Orthodox Jew and a disciple of rabbi Baruch Ashlag.
Mandelblit postponed his mandatory military service in the Israel Defense Forces to attend Tel Aviv University as part of the Atuda program. He joined the IDF in 1985, after graduating with a bachelor's degree in law. He later earned a Ph.D. from Bar-Ilan University.
Upon joining the IDF, he held a variety of positions in the Military Advocate General's Office. Between 1991 and 1992, he served as a judge on the Military Court of the Gaza region. In 1993, he was appointed senior assistant to the Chief Military Prosecutor, and later became his deputy. In 1997, he was appointed Deputy President of the Military Court of the Southern Command and the Ground Forces. In 2000, he was appointed as the Head of the Chief Military Defense, and, in 2003, as the Deputy Military Advocate General. In 2004, he was promoted to the rank of Tat Aluf (Brigadier General) and appointed as the Chief Military Advocate General. In 2009, he was promoted to the rank of Aluf.
During his service as the Chief Military Advocate General, Mandelblit frequently expressed the IDF's legal viewpoint upon different issues of the international humanitarian law. In December 2007, he declared that the IDF's use of cluster bombs during the Second Lebanon War complied with international humanitarian law. He was also a part of harsh criticism against Goldstone Report, stating:
We ourselves set up investigations into 140 complaints. It is when you read these other reports and complaints that you realize how truly vicious the Goldstone report is. He made it look like we set out to go after the economic infrastructure and civilians, that it was intentional. It's a vicious lie.
After retiring from the military in 2011, Mandelblit served until 2013 as a researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies. In 2013, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Mandelblit to the post of Cabinet Secretary. Mandelblit was appointed Attorney General of Israel in 2016, with the support of Netanyahu and his Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
As attorney general, Mandelblit gained "a reputation as a meticulous legalist" who prioritizes the rule of law; although a longtime member of the Likud party, Mandelblit was described by colleagues and friends as an apolitical attorney general whose decisionmaking is not colored by political considerations. He opposed Section 7 of the proposed nation-state law, which would have allowed Jewish communal settlements to refuse to accept non-Jewish residents.
Although Mandelblit had a close working relationship with Netanyahu dating back to Mandelblit's time as IDF's Military Advocate General, Mandelblit pursued criminal probes into Netanyahu relating to allegations of corruption by the prime minister and his associates. In July 2016, Mandelblit opened an initial review of Netanyahu's conduct in an unspecified case, and was criticized some on the left who viewed Mandelblit as protecting the prime minister. In January 2017, Mandelblit approved law enforcement questioning of Netanyahu in connection with "Case 1000" (an inquiry into allegedly illegal gifts). After the separate "Case 2000" (Yediot Aharonot-Israel Hayom affair) against Netanyahu emerged, Mandelblit moved slowly on the case. In September 2017, Mandelblit indicted the prime minister's wife, Sara Netanyahu; as part of a plea agreement, Sara Netanyahu was ordered to pay the equivalent of US$15,000.
In February 2018, police recommended that Prime Minister Netanyahu be indicted for bribery in cases 1000 and 2000. Later that year, another case, the Bezeq-Walla! affair ("Case 4000") emerged, and the prime minister fell under suspicion after his former allies Shlomo Filber and Nir Hefetz, turned state's evidence and became witnesses against Netanyahu. In December 2018, after State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan recommended that Netanyahu be indicted, Mandelblit announced that he would "work quickly" to decide whether to indict Netanyahu. Mandelblit said he would not act "at the expense of quality decisions and professionalism" and "would not be influenced by anything other than the evidence and the law".
In February 2019, Mandelbilt announced that "after thoroughly examining the evidence" he had accepted police recommendations to indict Netanyahu on three of the charges presented, and that an indictment would be formally issued following a hearing. Contested pre-indictment hearings concluded in October 2019.
On November 21, 2019, Mandelblit indicted Netanyahu on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust (in connection with Case 4000) and fraud and breach of public trust (in connection with Case 1000 and Case 2000). At the same time, Mandelblit indicted Yediot Ahronot owner Arnon Nuni Mozes on a bribery charge and Bezeq-Walla! owner Shaul Elovitch and his wife Iris on charges of bribery and obstruction of justice. Netanyahu thus became the first sitting Israeli prime minister to be indicted. Mandelblit planned to ask the Knesset to waive Netanyahu's immunity from prosecution. The indictment increased pressure on Netanyahu to resign from office.