Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded this evening to the Attorney General's announcement that he had decided to indict Netanyahu on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.
"I have given my life to the country," Netanyahu said, "I have been wounded fighting for the country, and I have battled to turn it into a world power, and I am very proud of these achievements.
"I have to tell you that this is a very difficult day, and it is difficult for the many people who support and love me. I very much respect the legal authorities in Israel, but you have to be blind not to see that something bad has happened to the police investigators and to the people in the State Attorney's Office.
"We are witnessing an attempted coup against a prime minister on trumped-up charges and a tainted and tendentious investigation process. You must surely have noticed that the Attorney General's decision was published today of all days, with unprecedented speed, and at the most sensitive time for the political system since the state was founded," Netanyahu said.
The prime minister went on to complain of new crimes having been invented and of pressure brought by the police on state's witnesses in the cases against him. "They didn't pursue the truth," he said, "they pursued me."
"The public is entitled to clean investigations that seek the truth. The only way to restore public faith in the system is to set up an external, independent public committee of inquiry," the prime minister concluded.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said this evening of his decision to indict the prime minister: "Netanyahu is a richly deserving person. I made the decision to indict him with a heavy heart, but with a whole heart. Law enforcement is not a matter of choice, it's not a matter of left or right, it's not a matter of politics, it's my duty to the citizens of this country. The public interest demands that no-one should be above the law. It's a hard day, but also an important day.
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz tweeted "A very sad day for the State of Israel", while on its Twitter account his party tweeted the video of Netanyahu's call a decade ago on then prime minister Ehud Olmert to resign because "a prime minister up to his neck in investigations has no public or moral right to make fateful decisions for the country, because the suspicion exists... that he will make decisions in the interests of his personal political survival and not on the basis of the national interest."
Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman tweeted: "A hard day for the State of Israel. We must let the mills of justice do their work, and let the prime minister have the opportunity to prove his innocence in court." Labor-Gesher leader Amir Peretz said he would petition the High Court of Justice to declare that the prime minister was incapacitated. "The indictment against Netanyahu is the reason that a government has not been formed," he said. "If we can prevent Netanyahu from clinging to the horns of the altar, we can prevent a third general election."
Legal proceedings against Benjamin Netanyahu, Shaul Elovitch, Iris Elovitch, Arnon Mozes and Zeev Rubinstein are still in progress. They deny the charges against them, and are entitled to the presumption of innocence.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 21, 2019
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