Don't Give Netanyahu the Mandate to Form a Government

Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial
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Benjamin Netanyahu addresses supporters on Election Night, last month.
Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial

President Reuven Rivlin cannot give Benjamin Netanyahu the mandate to form a government. That’s the only conclusion that can be drawn from Netanyahu’s horror show on Monday, which only reinforced the notion that the president must put an end to his repulsive, corrupt, destructive rule.

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Netanyahu broke all the rules yesterday. His unbridled attack on the prosecution on the day the evidence started to be heard in his trial is the ultimate proof that he is a criminal defendant masquerading as a prime minister. The State of Israel, its institutions, its legal code, legislature, budget, agenda, security, as well as its past and present have been subordinated for two years to Netanyahu’s legal problems. How long will Israel be held hostage by a criminal defendant seeking to evade the law?

The state and the public can no longer nurture any illusion about Netanyahu’s split personality. As if he can be both a criminal defendant charged with corruption and prime minister at the same time, without defendant Netanyahu influencing Prime Minister Netanyahu. One can no longer assume that the latter doesn’t work for the former.

There’s also no reason to hope that Netanyahu will submit to the conflict-of-interest agreement prepared for him by the attorney general, as he promised the High Court of Justice, a commitment that was a condition the court had set for his appointment as prime minister despite the serious charges against him. Firstly, because Netanyahu refuses to sign it, but even worse, because it’s meaningless. Netanyahu is a walking conflict of interests. The very expectation that he will uphold the agreement assumes he’s worthy of trust, but the police, state prosecution and the attorney general argue that they have enough evidence to prove that he’s not.

Netanyahu can no longer surprise us with his wanton behavior, because there are no expectations of him anymore. Unfortunately, the High Court, in its weakness, metaphorically made this vermin kosher, although it didn’t rule out the president withholding the mandate from a criminal defendant for ethical reasons. That’s why Rivlin is the last line of defense. The last time the mandate was in his hand, Rivlin went out of his way to adjust the Israeli government structure to fit the awful measurements of a criminal defendant. We all know how that ended. The rope Rivlin gave Netanyahu merely allowed the criminal defendant to deceive his partner in government, Benny Gantz, stymie passage of a state budget and in the end, drag Israel to a fourth election.

Netanyahu’s place is in the dock. His behavior on Monday was a last-minute reminder that he cannot be given a mandate to continue to ruin the country.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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