Editorial

Netanyahu, Go Home Now

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu checks the time during a meeting of the right-wing bloc at the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 20, 2019. 
AFP

Something momentous happened in Israel Thursday. Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit announced three indictments against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000 and for fraud and breach of trust in cases 1000 and 2000. Netanyahu’s promise to the public that “there will be nothing because there is nothing” has turned out, like his other promises, to be false.

The statements Netanyahu made about former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during the time the latter was under investigation should now be said about Netanyahu: “A prime minister who is up to his neck in investigations does not have a moral and public mandate to decide such fateful things for the State of Israel.”

But Netanyahu listens to no one, not even himself. Anyone who expected a modicum of proper conduct from the prime minister saw once again his colossal irresponsibility. Netanyahu proved that Israel is not his top priority, but rather a means for him to continue in office. On Thursday Netanyahu made clear that Mendelblit’s decision was not the end of his term in office, but only the opening salvo in the most vicious and destructive battle of all – against the attorney general, the prosecution and the police. Netanyahu used up all his rhetorical ammunition, along the lines of the biblical Samson’s “let me die with the Philistines”: “attempted judicial coup,” “frame-up,” “selective enforcement” and “polluted process of investigation” are just a few examples from his unbridled speech, which he ended with a demand to “investigate the investigators.”

The letter of the law does allow the prime minister to remain in office until the final judgment is rendered. But if there is anything Netanyahu has proven in his latest term, and even more so in his speech Thursday, it is that he cannot wage a legal battle to clear his name and run the country at the same time. In the choice between the good of the country and his personal good, Netanyahu always chose what was good for him. Ever since the beginning of the investigation he has behaved acted like a common criminal, denying wrongdoing and lashing out at the police and the justice system. For the past two years, the entire apparatus of government has been under unprecedented assault. This campaign of destruction conducted by the prime minister of Israel against the State of Israel has to stop. Netanyahu must go home. Now.

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