Editorial

Netanyahu's Fight Against the State Knows No Bounds

The prime minister sees himself as a rogue taking on the establishment when he is, in fact, the establishment

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, at a conference on Peace and Security in the Middle East in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, February 14, 2019.
AP

To hear Benjamin Netanyahu, his request to receive millions of dollars from two tycoons who testified in Case 1000 (champagne and cigars) to pay for his legal defense is only a common citizen’s attempt to defend his most basic rights against the mighty bureaucratic machine that is “the state.”

Shamelessly, a prime minister who has been in office for 10 consecutive years is describing his legal struggle as a fight against the authorities. In a document sent to the State Comptroller’s Office’s permits committee, his attorney wrote: “The huge expenses the state has invested demonstrate the endless budget and resources at its disposal, and underscore the individual’s helplessness, whatever his personal fortune, to defend himself single-handedly against that critical mass piling up against him. … Whether it’s one of those cases the Supreme Court called ‘dinosaur cases’ … a private person who is flesh and blood, whatever his public status, stands alone in his defense against the state’s infinite power.” Kafka couldn’t have said it better.

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After years of running the state’s affairs almost by himself, Netanyahu is trying to create a distinction between himself and it. Not only is he not the state, but the state is persecuting him. Indeed, “the state” turned down his previous request with the almost self-evident argument: “It is inappropriate for men of great means to finance legal expenses stemming from a criminal investigation that includes the suspicion of criminal acts connected to men of great means.”

But Netanyahu’s cynicism has no bounds. On Wednesday Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit also denied Netanyahu’s request to pose further questions to witnesses among the more than 60 who have testified in the cases wherein he is a suspect. His lawyers submitted the request on the eve of the attorney general’s denial of their request to delay until after the election the announcement of his decision on whether to indict the prime minister.

The prime minister, in response to the denial, didn’t miss the opportunity to incite: “It’s regrettable that the pressure by the left and the media appears to be pushing the attorney general to act in haste and announce a [pre-indictment] hearing before the elections,” he said.

It is clear that Netanyahu is incapable of running state affairs as if he isn’t in the midst of a legal battle, while the state is incapable of functioning as though its prime minister isn’t immersed in corruption cases. We must put an end to this saga as soon as possible.

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