Everybody’s Corrupt but Netanyahu

The prime minister's attempt to delay a decision on the corruption indictments until after the election is the real ‘political interference’

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks at the Cybertech 2019 conference in Tel Aviv, Israel January 29, 2019.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks at the Cybertech 2019 conference in Tel Aviv, Israel January 29, 2019. Credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial

The more time passes and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit’s decision approaches, the more Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s anxiety grows, along with his attempts to silence and incite against Mendelblit.

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On Friday, Netanyahu posted a video in which he attacked the attorney general, accusing him of caving to pressure from the left and the media regarding an indictment in the corruption cases against the prime minister.

The assault on Mendelblit follows his statement that there is no reason not to decide on the cases before the April 9 election. Mendelblit explained that delaying a decision would damage the principle of equality and the public’s right to know. Thus Mendelblit rejected the request by the prime minister’s lawyers to postpone publication of his decision until after the election.

As a citizen suspected of criminal acts who is fighting for his innocence, Netanyahu’s anger is understandable, as is the fact that he has let off steam on social media. The courts are full of indicted suspects cursing the judges under their breath, and the prisons are overflowing with convicted criminals who swear they’re innocent and have been done in by the system.

But Netanyahu isn’t an ordinary citizen he’s the prime minister. When he speaks out against the police or the attorney general, his remarks carry a lot of weight and can undermine the credibility of the system and seriously impair the public’s faith in it.

Netanyahu is well aware of the damage he is causing. He wants to delegitimize the attorney general so that the public will refuse to accept his decision.

Netanyahu’s constant attempt to depict the release of the decision before the election as “political interference” is itself political interference in the legal proceedings. During the investigations he accused the police of framing him, and now that the ball is in the attorney general’s court, he’s accusing Mendelblit. Netanyahu is putting political pressure on law enforcement and the legal system to warn against dealing with him.

At the same time, he is willing for the public to believe that all the state’s agencies, which he has headed for 10 years running now, are fundamentally corrupt, and only he is as white as snow.

But it takes one to know one. “Stopping the process at this point for months is precisely what can be perceived as political influence,” Gil Limon, Mendelblit’s aide, wrote in the letter responding to Netanyahu’s lawyers, adding a reminder that the prosecution started examining the evidence against him long before the election was moved up. Netanyahu himself tried to obstruct the prosecution’s timetable and moved up the election to prevent publication of the attorney general’s conclusions.

Mendelblit must not play into Netanyahu’s hands. For the good of the country and the people, the attorney general must close his ears to the unbridled incitement against him and publish his decisions solely based on professional considerations.

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

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