During an event marking Hanukkah on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed various investigations against him, as well as estimates that the police will recommend he stand trial in one of the cases.
At a Likud convention near Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said that most recommendations by police do not result in indictments, and that the anti-corruption protesters in Tel Aviv are trampling the rule of law. He added that the media has undertaken a witch hunt against him.
Last weekend, thousands of Israelis took to the city's streets for the third Saturday in a row to protest against corruption in Netanyahu's government and the so-called recommendations law, which would prevent police from publicizing recommendations on indictments.
The controversial bill was widely believed to have been drafted to protect Netanyahu, who is currently under investigation in two high-profile corruption scandals (known as "Case 1000" and "Case 2000"), by keeping the public in the dark.
The first investigation involves allegations that he received lavish gifts from wealthy businessmen, the so-called Case 1000, and the second involves allegations that he negotiated a deal with a newspaper owner for more favorable coverage, dubbed Case 2000.
Regarding police recommendations, Netanyahu said on Tuesday, "there will be recommendations, so what? Here's a fact you probably don't know. Over 60 percent of police recommendations are thrown out, and never result in indictments."
He further referred to President Reuven Rivlin when he said, "another man in public life told me about his experience: the police recommended an indictment, and years later, the attorney general threw the recommendations in the trash and closed the file. He told me, 'who's going to give my family and me back those three difficult years taken from me.' At the time, he was the speaker of the Knesset, and today he's the president of the state."
Netanyahu claimed that protests against him and against government corruption are funded by the New Israel Fund, and said that the goal of the anti-corruption protests on Rothschild Boulevard seek to bring down the Likud government. "Those people are going to tell us about the rule of law? Those people are the ones trampling the rule of law," said Netanyahu. "They're protesting in front of the attorney general's house. They don't want a fair trial, they want a quick trial on Rothschild, that's what they think the rule of law is." Netanyahu also said that the media is biased against him, saying that "there's a highly organized witch hunt going on here, slandering on the streets, it's full of hot air."
Netanyahu also addressed U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel capital, pledging that the Western Wall will always remain in Israel. His remarks came a day after 14 UN Security Council member-states backed a resolution rejecting the U.S. move.
"The UN says the Western Wall is occupied Palestinian land. I have news for them – the Western Wall is ours, it always was ours and will always be ours."
Referring to the U.S. declaration recognizing Jerusalem as capital, Netanyahu said, "I see it as a major diplomatic achievement. Other [U.S.] presidents made this promise, but it did wasn't fulfilled."
The United States vetoed the resolution on Monday, after it was the only member-state to vote against it.
On Friday, Netanyahu investigators from the national fraud squad questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the seventh time at his official residence regarding the so-called cases 1000 and 2000.
The police have finished their investigative activities, and are working to conclude the two investigations in the coming two weeks, or at the latest by the middle of January. Last month, the police succeeded in obtaining testimony from millionaire James Packer, who is expected of funding gifts alongside producer Arnon Milchin that were given to the Netanyahu family.
This was not the first time that Netanyahu has attacked the police regarding investigations against him. About two months ago, following a Channel 2 Report on developments in the investigations, Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page:
"Police Commissioner Al-Sheikh entered his position, and made two important decisions: that there won't be any more investigation leaks, and that there won't be any more police recommendations. Since political adviser Lior Horev was appointed as an external adviser to the police, for which the tax payers have forked over millions without a tender, illegal tenders have turned into tsunamis, and the decision to avoid recommendations has disappeared as though it never existed."
Netanyahu later said that his comments were not an attack on police or on the rule of law.
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