Netanyahu: I Will Continue to Serve Israel Out of Confidence That the Truth Will Prevail

The prime minister was responding to a question from Haaretz whether he believes the police are involved in a plot against him

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on February 15, 2018.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on February 15, 2018.Credit: meged gozani

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged on Thursday that he will continue to serve Israel and its citizens after Israel Police recommended indicting him for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two corruption cases.

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Responding to a question from Haaretz about whether he believes the police are involved in a plot against him, Netanyahu said he and his wife, Sara, are touched by the support expressed by Israeli citizens.

"I will continue to serve them and our country responsibly and with determination out of a sense of great confidence that the truth will ultimately prevail," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu also expressed his condolences to the victims of the mass shooting that killed at least 17 at a high school in Florida. "I speak for the entire people of Israel when I say to the families and to the American people: Our hearts are with you," Netanyahu said.

The prime minister's remarks came on his departure for Germany to attend the annual international Munich Security Conference. He is expected to return to Israel Sunday evening.

"I will present proof of Iran's involvement in the recent events in the north," the prime minister said in apparent reference to last weekend's incursion into Israel by an Iranian drone, which was followed by Israeli strikes in Syria and the Syrian downing of an Israeli fighter jet. "We will again stress our determination to defend ourselves by ourselves in the face of any threat without any limitation," Netanyahu said.

Commenting on the recent visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ramallah with Palestinian officials, Netanyahu said: "India has ties with Iran and with the Palestinians. That's not new. What has changed is that India has close relations with Israel, and it is this change that we have brought about and will continue to cultivate."

The Munich conference is expected to be attended by a number of foreign leaders, including British Prime Minster Theresa May, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Rwandan President Paul Kagame. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and President Donald Trump's national security adviser, Herbert McMaster, will also be attending. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir are also expected to participate.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon also addressed the police recommendations on Thursday and called for those on the right and left of the political spectrum to refrain from attacks on the law enforcement system.

Expressing confidence in the police and prosecution, Kahlon also noted that ultimately it is not the Israel Police, but the attorney general, Avichai Mendelblit, who has the authority to decide whether to indict the prime minister.

"I trust the attorney general, his integrity, his professionalism, as I rely on the Israel Police, its integrity and professionalism, and the prosecution and other law enforcement agencies," Kahlon said.

"I would ask that everyone on the right and the left of the political map refrain from attacks on the law enforcement system to allow them to do their job. If we allow them to do their job, we will get the best possible result," he continued.

In advance of the release of the police recommendations, Netanyahu openly questioned the integrity of the commissioner of the Israel Police, Roni Alsheikh, and other high-ranking officers involved in the investigations against him. In an interview broadcast last week, Alsheikh claimed that "powerful people" had been gathering information about the investigators working on the cases against the prime minister, without being specific.

Netanyahu responded in a late-night Facebook post, calling the claims "ludicrous" and saying the police chief's comments "cast a shadow" over the investigation. In the days that followed, Netanyahu continued to criticize the police, including, Roni Ritman, the head of the anti-corruption unit that has been responsible for the investigation against the prime minister, who Netanyahu said should have recused himself from investigating the prime minister because of insinuations Netanyahu was behind a petition by a female officer alleging sexual harassment by Ritman.

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