Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn is the new target of the sharpshooters of the incitement network serving criminal defendant Benjamin Netanyahu.
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First came the hounding and defaming of the previous police chief, Roni Alsheich, and then of the previous state prosecutor, Shai Nitzan. In the meantime, half the mudslinging was aimed at Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, while also allowing Senior Prosecutor Liat Ben Ari to be fair game.
Now it’s the justice minister’s turn. That’s what happens to anyone standing in Netanyahu’s way in his effort to escape justice.
On Friday, Netanyahu’s Likud party issued a statement on an alleged give-and-take deal between Nissenkorn and Mendelblit, this time based on a story line involving “a closing of a file in exchange for an appointment, and an appointment in exchange for a closing of a file.”
The incitement machine explained that Mendelblit had secretly closed an investigation into Nissenkorn; in return, Nissenkorn removed acting State Prosecutor Dan Eldad, who “had begun to investigate legal matters relating to Mendelblit.” Nissenkorn later replaced Eldad with Mendelblit, “who halted the investigation against himself.”
In the real world, no criminal file was ever opened on Nissenkorn. In 2017, when he headed the Histadrut labor federation and ran for another term, the police conducted a preliminary inquiry into him. That came after associates of Shelly Yacimovich, who also ran, complained to the police that associates of Nissenkorn had tried to rig the election. The inquiry didn’t find evidence justifying the opening of a criminal file, so the preliminary proceedings ended in October that year.
The head of the police’s investigation and intelligence unit told the state prosecutor that the unit recommended that the matter be wrapped up without a criminal investigation. Formally, however, the inquiry was only closed three months ago, shortly before Nissenkorn was appointed justice minister – negligence that merits an examination and should be rooted out.
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Still, a mountain was made out of this molehill, which the criminal defendant cleverly climbed onto and from on high spread the story from his Facebook page. He spread it as if it were from a fake profile rather than from the person leading the Israeli government for the past 11 years.
Over and over, the public has witnessed a mafia-like culture of governance, while it’s clear to everyone that it’s not the good of the country or the war on corruption that’s dictating the players’ moves, but solely Netanayhu’s legal cases. It’s as if the country, which is still recovering from three straight general elections and is suffering a health and economic pandemic, didn’t have enough problems and needed an Israeli version of “The Godfather.”
That’s how it is when a sitting prime minister behaves like a run-of-the-mill criminal. In fleeing the law, he’s dragging the entire country with him into a dead end. Netanyahu’s rule must end.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.