Former Supreme Court Justice Compares Netanyahu to Crime Boss

Netanyahu called on the attorney general in a video not to decide whether to charge him before election. Former justice: 'it's incitement, in the criminal sense of the word'

Retired Supreme Court Justice Eliyahu Matza who served on the high court from 1991 to 2005.
Olivier Fitoussi

A former vice president of the Supreme Court attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday for calling not to decide on whether to charge him in the three criminal cases him before the April 9 Knesset election.

"I cannot recall any time in my entire career such statements against law enforcement by anyone other than heads of crime organizations," the former justice, Eliyahu Matza, told Israel Radio.

Matza, who served on the Supreme Court from 1992 to 2005, was referring to a video Netanyahu had posted on his Facebook page over the weekend in which the prime minister compared indicting him before the election to chopping off a thief's arm before finalizing the case against him.

Netanyahu video comparing his legal woes to that of a person who's hand was chopped off. (In Hebrew)

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When asked about his thoughts on the video, Matza said: "I felt embarrassed for him. Because he's not embarrassed. He needs to understand that serving as prime minister is not a private venture that he brought with him from home and that must be kept at any price.

"The prime minister, the government, members of Knesset, Netanyahu's friends – they're all under the law and they absolutely must not make comments like these that are no less than incitement against the attorney general and law enforcement agencies. It's just incitement, in the criminal sense of the word," Matza added.

Matza also said in the interview that Netanyahu moved up the election in order to get to the hearing with Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit as a newly reelected prime minister. This backfired, according to Matza, who said that Netanyahu's "move force the attorney general and state prosecution to work faster in order to fulfill their duty."

He added that "the people want to know who his candidates are... if there really 'isn't anything because there wasn't anything,' he should want to finish this quickly, so why delay it?" referring to Netanyahu's continued denial of the charges against him.

Haaretz reported Sunday that according to a source in the attorney general's office, Mendelblit will announce his decision next month.

On Saturday, a survey conducted by Meet the Press on the Israel Television News Company showed that 64 percent of the Israeli public believes Mendelblit should announce his decision before the election.  22 percent of the respondents believe Mendelblit should wait until after the election to announce his decision, while 14 percent said they did not know whether or not Mendelblit should delay the announcement.

Likud said in response that it is "shocking to hear someone who served as a Supreme Court justice slandering the prime minister like a left-wing protestor. It's interesting that he didn't even say a word against protesters who have been pressuring the attorney general for three years like bullies to get him to indict Netanyahu. For anyone who has any doubt, the judge was exposed today as a political operative for the left recruited to bring down the Netanyahu government."