Gantz Says Netanyahu Will Receive Fair Trial, Expresses Faith in Law Enforcement

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit also praised Israel’s justice system, saying that they will continue on without fear, despite premier's attacks on the judiciary

Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz at the Israeli Knesset, Jerusalem, April 26, 2020
Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz at the Israeli Knesset, Jerusalem, April 26, 2020Credit: Emil Salman

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption trial bagan on Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that he has faith in the Israeli justice system, adding that Netanyahu is innocent until proven guilty. Gantz said that he is "sure that the justice system will hold a just trial for him."

"My colleagues and I have full confidence in the justice system and law enforcement," Gantz said. "At this time, perhaps more than ever, we must act as a state and as a society for unity and reconciliation," he said.

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Gantz posted the comment on Twitter after the trial began, following a speech by Netanyahu in which he attacked the law enforcement system. Speaking to the press before entering the Jerusalem District Court for the first session of his trial, Netanyahu told reporters the investigations against him “were tainted from day one,” and called the three indictments against him "ludicrous."

The prime minister argued that the indictment was intented to oust him from power. "For over a decade, the left has been unable to do so at the polls. Police and prosecutors have joined forces with the left-wing newspapers to implicate me in these delusional cases."

Avichai Mendelblit at the Knesset, February 4, 2020Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit released a statement following the first day of Netanyahu’s trial, praising Israel’s justice system and saying that they will continue on without fear, despite attacks on the judiciary.

“At the Jerusalem District Court, the trial of four defendants began today, among them the prime minister,” Mandelblit said. “This trial will be handled like any other – professionally and within the walls of the courtroom alone. Israel is a lawful state… We will act without fear, even in the face of the baseless attempt to attribute ulterior motives to law enforcement agencies, an attempt that must be rejected at all costs.”

“We will continue working from the principle that all are equal in the face of the law, and our accountability is to the citizens of the State of Israel.”

Kahol Lavan MK and Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn also said that "the prime minister stands strong and innocent and I wish that he will prove it in court. We have been blessed with a high quality and impartial legal system. I have no doubt that the legal process will be conducted in a fair and just manner." He noted that "as elected officials in a Jewish and democratic state, we must maintain the strength of the judiciary and focus on civil and unity activities."

Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz (left) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a special government meeting, Jerusalem, May 24, 2020Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Opposition Speaker and Yesh Atid MK Yair Lapid strongly criticized Netanyahu's remarks regarding the law system, saying that "Netanyahu's unruly and inciting remarks [give] definitive proof of why a criminal defendant cannot continue to serve as prime minister."

Several Likud ministers and Knesset members came to court to support Netanyahu, including Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, Education Minister Yoav Galant, Transport Minister Miri Regev, Finance Minister Yisrael Katz, David Amsalem and Tzachi Hanegbi.

Netanyahu’s trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust bagan Sunday at the Jerusalem District Court. It is the first time in the country’s history that a sitting prime minister is facing a criminal trial.

The first session of Netanyahu's trial lasted for 50 minutes, with the judges expected to explain the next steps of the trial in the coming days.

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