Editorial

Likudniks, Wake Up and Ditch Netanyahu!

Likud supporters demonstrate near the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, November 23, 2019.
Ohad Zwigenberg

His speech Thursday assailing the police and prosecution, following the decision to indict him in three separate cases, shows that defendant Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t intend to vacate his post but to use all the power of his position to remain prime minister for as long as possible while waging war on state institutions. This is a dangerous situation because Netanyahu has already proved that in his eyes, his personal welfare and survival in office take priority over the welfare of Israel’s citizens.

Netanyahu won’t quit the political ring of his own accord. Only petitions to the High Court of Justice or a change of heart among Knesset members from the rightist/ultra-Orthodox bloc can dislodge him. But the best way to get rid of him would be for his own Likud party to do it.

Anyone who reads the indictments will understand that the one in the dock is Netanyahu, not Likud or the right. The indictments have nothing to do with a diplomatic or political agenda; they’re about Netanyahu’s corrupt behavior in promoting the interests of wealthy businessmen in exchange for gifts and favorable press coverage. Through his actions, Netanyahu has undermined a long list of public interests. And the people he has harmed are mainly politicians on the right – Naftali Bennett, Moshe Kahlon, Zeev Elkin and Yariv Levin – all of whom he either besmirched or misled.

The officials in charge of the investigations and indictments came from the religious-Zionist community – former Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan. Netanyahu’s claim that the investigations and indictments were meant to topple a right-wing government is false, and his reckless efforts to convince the public that Israel is undergoing a coup, like his criminal demand to “investigate the investigators” and his hope that the people will take to the streets to defend the rule of the people, are no less grave than the serious charges for which he will soon be in the dock.

Even though Likud boasts of being a democratic party with functioning institutions, the party and most of its senior members have subordinated themselves to Netanyahu’s well-being and personal interests. But the indictments and everything Netanyahu does to avoid standing trial should open their eyes. Their sobering up is also vital to extricate Israel from its political imbroglio. There is an urgent need to form a new government following an entire year in which the Knesset hasn’t functioned and the government has collapsed and postponed key decisions.

A prime minister charged with criminal offenses, whose attention will be devoted to his legal situation rather than the country’s situation, who embeds himself in the Knesset and uses it as a base for assailing state institutions, is a danger to Israel – and to his party. Netanyahu was once an asset for Likud and the right, but his party colleagues party know that the moment he was indicted he became a liability. Now they must take action, not wait for the High Court to do the job for them.

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