Editorial

Likud Can Draw a Line Against Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjanmin Netanyahu attends a cabinet meeting, Jerusalem, May 16, 2019.
Emil Salman

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knowingly lied to the public about his intention to pass a law that would grant him immunity in the corruption cases against him, and thus actually won the election by fraud.

Remember that the recent election was held early solely out of consideration for the prime minister’s legal needs. After Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit unveiled his draft indictment against Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, pending a hearing, the formation of a new government was made subject to the needs of Netanyahu’s legal defense: cabinet portfolios in exchange for support of a law granting Netanyahu immunity.

>> Analysis: Netanyahu's on a quest for survival, and the hell with Israeli democracy ■ Editorial: The law designed to close the cases against Netanyahu

With no compunctions, Netanyahu adopted his opponents’ position that “the citizens of Israel deserve a full-time prime minister.” But he turned on its head the conclusion derived from this obvious insight – that a state cannot function when its prime minister is spending his mornings in court and his evenings in the cabinet room. He therefore should resign if an indictment is filed, but instead he decided that he would spare himself the hours in court.

With his renowned generosity he agreed to continue the legal proceedings against him as an ordinary citizen once he has completed his term. Netanyahu is thumbing his nose at the rule of law and Israel’s citizens. This is a scandalous decision. He has reduced the criminal proceedings into a mere technical matter of no importance, while crudely ignoring the gravity of the suspicions against him that the attorney general has listed on 57 pages.

Netanyahu has transformed the Knesset into a refuge for criminals and his cabinet into partners in crime. The silence of the lambs in his Likud party is evidence of personal weakness among the people in this party. All they need is to allow for a moment the possibility that his guilt will be proved in court. His attempts to evade justice are enough for us to understand that this person isn’t worthy of serving in the government, let alone heading it.

In his own camp there are enough people who realize what he’s doing to the country. Only Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar spoke out when on Thursday he called the idea of an immunity law “legislation with zero benefit and maximum damage.”

Certainly there must still be law-abiding people in Likud who believe that the continued disparagement of the law and the justice system is corrupt. This is their hour. They must rescue Israel from its transformation into a tool for someone without inhibitions; they must break their silence and prevent him from exploiting his power, and them. They must draw a line and say “no more.”

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