From 'Witch Hunt' to Immunity Bid: Netanyahu's Evolving Narrative of Corruption Charges


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, indicted with bribery and fraud and breach of trust, formally asked parliament on Wednesday to grant him immunity from prosecution. Netanyahu’s request and his climatic Wednesday night press conference cap a public campaign against Israel’s law enforcement, which began with the start of his investigations in late 2016. This is how Netanyahu’s narrative changed, evolved and grew more extreme since then:

July 18, 2016 | Netanyahu calls ongoing inquiry 'hot air'

"There is such a flood of talk, of nonsense, of invention, of lies, dealing with this for many years and haven't found anything for a simple reason. There's nothing there. There wasn't anything. In this case too, there's no fire, no smoke. There's hot air."

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January 8, 2017 | After being questioned by police: 'Nothing will be found because there is nothing'

"What I can tell you today, now that I know what this is about, and I will tell you this with full confidence: nothing will be found because there is nothing.”

August 4, 2017 | Report that Netanayhu's former chief of staff will testify against him is 'background noise'

"We cannot go without commenting on the ‘weekly affair’, so I want to tell you, citizens of Israel, I'm not going to address this background noise."

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August 9, 2017 | Netanyahu accuses Israeli left and media of trying to oust him

“The media and the left, which serves it... contrive endless scandals, endless reports and endless headlines so that maybe, maybe something will stick…

[They] aim is to put pressure, which is wrong, on the law enforcement authorities to bring an indictment at any cost, without any connection to the truth, without any connection to justice."

February 13, 2018 | Netanyahu slams police for recommending to indict him in two cases

"There is only one thing I care about, and that's the country's interest. Not cigars, not favorable press coverage. Not even the attacks against me, which are incessant. These recommendations have no standing in a democratic regime… More than half of the police recommendations are not accepted by the legal institutions and end up with nothing. I am sure that the legal and competent bodies will review all the recommendations and will discover how unfounded they are... [The left and media's] aim is to pressure ... law enforcement authorities to bring an indictment at any cost, without any connection to the truth, without any connection to justice."

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December 2, 2018 | Netanyahu blasts 'witch hunt' after police recommend bribery charges

“The timing of the witch hunt against us is transparent and the process has been tainted from the start.”

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February 28, 2019 | 'The left-wing pressure has succeeded': Netanyahu cries foul over indictment

"[The left has] applied endless pressures on the attorney general in order for him to say that he is recommending to indict me for bribery pending a hearing, even when there is nothing. The left's pressure succeeded… Something terrible has happened here and it is hurting Israeli democracy… For the first time in the country's history we are going to a hearing before the election, just to topple the right wing and raise the left to the premiership. There is no other explanation."

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March 23, 2019 | Asked if he would seek immunity from prosecution, Netanyahu answers 'What? No Way!'

"What? No way! I didn't deal with this and I do not plan to deal with this. I don't believe I will."

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November 21, 2019 | Netanyahu decries 'attempted coup' against him after corruption charges filed

"You would have to be blind not to see that something bad is happening with the police and the prosecution, because tonight we are witnessing an attempted government coup against the prime minister through blood libels and a biased investigation process."

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December 29, 2019 | Netanyahu says immunity from prosecution 'a cornerstone of democracy'

"Immunity isn't against democracy. Immunity is a cornerstone of democracy."

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January 1, 2019 | Netanyahu requests immunity from prosecution in three criminal cases

"The immunity law is meant to protect public representatives from being framed. The law is meant to ensure that public representatives can serve the people according to the will of the people, and not the will of some clerks."

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