Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit announced his decision to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday in three cases against him on charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust, pending a hearing that is expected to be conducted after the Knesset election on April 9.
Given these circumstances, the proper thing would be for Netanyahu to resign and manage his legal battle as a private citizen. This is what would happen in any civilized country, and this is how a decent prime minister would act. But the prime minister of Israel for the last 10 years has been a person lacking the most minimal decency, as well as the necessary statesmanlike behavior required for such a gesture. It is even worse, he is determined to destroy the rule of law just so he can remain in the job.
Without a drop of shame, Netanyahu stood before the television cameras on Thursday and presented himself, once again, as the victim of a witch-hunt. Mendelblit’s decision was presented as a surrender to the pressure applied to him as part of the conspiracy to bring down the right-wing government using a legal blood libel, and with the goal of bringing Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid to power. Netanyahu blamed the media for spilling the blood of his wife and his son, and blamed the state’s witnesses for giving false testimony against him.
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The only thing new in his statement concerned the new targets he drew. His arrows of incitement were shot in the past at the former police commissioner Roni Alsheich and Mendelblit, and were now diverted toward the “two prosecutors who pushed against me,” meaning Liat Ben Ari, the prosecutor in charge of his cases, and State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan. In the end he didn’t miss out on the opportunity and called on the public to vote for him.
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Netanyahu’s response is more proof of his unsuitability for the position. During the years he was investigated by the police, Netanyahu promised that “there will be nothing because there is nothing.” When the police recommended indicting him, he contemptuously belittled the recommendations, telling the public that some 60 percent of such recommendations are thrown into the garbage. Now, when Mendelblit decided not to toss the police recommendations into the trash, Netanyahu once again is promising the public that he will refute all the “libels” against him.
A country cannot function properly when it is led by a person who acts like a criminal and accuses the police, prosecutors, opposition and press of conspiring against him. Netanyahu, like everyone, has the presumption of innocence on his side. But it is unreasonable to lead this legal battle while violating his obligation to the institutions of government by slandering them and undermining their legitimacy.