If Netanyahu Violated the Law, He Must Stand Trial Like Anyone Else

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Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting.Credit: Daniel Bar-On

Although neither Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein nor State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan are involved in the election campaign, it seems as if they are helping to keep Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in office. This behavior is seen in a series of actions and blunders, the most recent and blatant of which was submitted to the High Court of Justice, as a response to a petition against Weinstein’s decision to suffice with an “examination” of the suspicions against Netanyahu over the funding of trips and transfer of funds for other purposes when he was head of the opposition (the so-called Bibitours case).

The conduct of the law enforcement system, which is subordinate to the attorney general, as well as that of the State Comptroller’s Office, which dealt with some aspects of the claims against Netanyahu, is extremely strange. Instead of making a vigorous and determined effort to get at the truth, the system dragged its feet. Strangest of all was the argument the prosecution made to the court – that Netanyahu wasn’t just “any suspect,” and that based on Supreme Court rulings it is proper and even necessary to use “excessive caution” when investigating a sitting prime minister, since he is the only person in government whose personal fate influences the entire system.

These arguments are groundless. It’s understood that one must be wary of false complaints whose sole aim is to disrupt the workings of government. But if a prime minister allegedly violated the law, he must stand trial like anyone else. Any other option that seems to favor senior public officials critically undermines the faith that citizens have in the state prosecution and attorney general. Moreover, the Bibitours case does not deal with the performance of a sitting prime minister, but alleged violations committed in the past.

Also problematic was Nitzan’s effort to prevent Sara Netanyahu from testifying in the civil suit against the prime minister and his office that was filed by the chief housekeeper in the Prime Minister’s Residence, Meni Naftali. While Nitzan succeeded in getting her testimony postponed until after the elections, he failed in his effort to block the submission of affidavits by other residence employees. Those affidavits portray a worrisome picture of the person who is closest to the prime minister and has the greatest influence on his lifestyle and agenda.

In a few months, Weinstein will be completing six years as attorney general, and it is hoped that he will be replaced by someone who will fight corruption and not favor the rich and famous. Nitzan, who is still relatively new in his job, must quickly understand that in his capacity he must treat every citizen equally and act fairly, effectively and decisively.

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