Fleeing From Justice, Netanyahu Is Trying to Turn Investigators Into Criminals

Haaretz Editorial
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adjusts his face mask during a visit to Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem, September 8 2020.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adjusts his face mask during a visit to Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem, September 8 2020.Credit: Alex Kolomoisky / AP
Haaretz Editorial

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote Tuesday that journalist Amit Segal’s claim that then-State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan had blocked a conflict-of-interest probe of the lead investigator in a case involving financial improprieties at the prime minister’s residences was a “nuclear bomb.”

If so, as a defense against this nuclear bomb, it’s worth listening to what Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn said about the issue. “Every week, there’s a new ‘revelation,’ in quotation marks, whose entire purpose is to turn reality upside down – to take the investigators and turn them into the suspects, to take the judges and turn them into punching bags,” he said.

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And indeed, Netanyahu has been orchestrating an onslaught of delegitimization against the law enforcement and justice systems. He fired the opening shot around a year ago, after Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit announced his decision to indict the prime minister. “The time has come to investigate the investigators,” Netanyahu said. “The time has come to investigate the prosecution, which approves [decisions to indict].”

That is exactly what is happening now. The strategy is transparent: to challenge the legitimacy of the law enforcement and justice systems, which investigated Netanyahu and decided to prosecute him. If he succeeds, his lawyers will be able to demand that the cases against him be dropped.

Netanyahu the prime minister is willing to destroy state institutions so that Netanyahu the criminal defendant can evade justice. The end justifies the means to the point that the inciters’ views sometimes undergo a complete reversal. The latest example of the cynicism of the people doing this work is Public Security Minister Amir Ohana’s demand that the police findings about the death of Yakub Abu al-Kiyan, a teacher who was shot to death by police during the demolition of Umm al-Hiran in 2017, be reexamined.

The Abu al-Kiyan case does need to be reopened, but not in order to continue destroying the rule of law. Rather, this is necessary to expose all the failures that led to the hasty conclusion that he had committed a car-ramming attack and the irresponsible decision to brand him as a terrorist. Ohana, who to this day hasn’t lifted a finger to uncover the truth in this case, isn’t worried about Abu al-Kiyan’s reputation; he just wants to undermine the credibility of former Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, who dared to investigate Ohana’s master and recommend indicting him.

“It’s sad to see the corruption in the law enforcement system,” Ohana lamented, without a trace of shame, as if he weren’t engaged in destroying the state to protect someone charged with corruption. In so doing, he merely bolstered the only conclusion that ought to be drawn from the weekly “nuclear bomb” – that a criminal defendant cannot serve as prime minister.

He and those around him must not be allowed to confuse the issue. Netanyahu isn’t seeking justice, but rather fleeing from it.

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

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