While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington D.C. as President Donald Trump revealed his Middle East peace plan, an indictment was filed against the prime minister on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit filed the indictment against Netanyahu, marking the first time in Israel’s history that a serving prime minister will face criminal charges. Netanyahu is facing these charges as he also tries to maintain his position as the country’s leader in the upcoming elections on March 2.
Sources close to the prime minister said the indictment amounted to a witch hunt against Netanyahu.
“If anyone still had any doubt that Prime Minister Netanyahu is the target of obsessive persecution, he was now given further clear and sharp proof,” one source was quoted as saying. “The eagerness to file the unfounded indictment against the prime minister is so great that they could not wait even one day until after the historic summit in Washington, one of the most important in the history of the state.”
The charges were filed hours after Netanyahu withdrew his request for parliamentary immunity despite the pending charges against him. In Netanyahu April bid to keep his post, he promised before elections that he would not seek immunity. In a clip that has gone viral, he seems incredulous that he would even be asked. Why has it gone viral? Because shortly after the April election, it became clear that he wanted the Knesset to grant him immunity from prosecution, as long as he was Prime Minister. Seeing he did not have the votes, he drop his request last week.
“During this fateful time for the people of Israel, while I am in the US on a historic mission to shape Israel’s permanent borders and ensure our security for future generations, another Knesset episode is expected to begin in the immunity circus,” the prime minister said. “Since I was not given due process, because all the rules of the Knesset were trampled on, and since the results of the procedure were pre-dictated without proper discussion, I decided not to allow this dirty game to continue.”
Netanyahu’s main rival Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party pounced on the opportunity.
“Netanyahu is going to trial — we must move forward. Israel’s citizens have a clear choice: A prime minister who will work for them or a prime minister working for himself,” Gantz said. “No one can run a state and at the same time manage three serious criminal cases for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.”
Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in all three cases, and has alleged that the investigations against him are a “witch hunt” involving the left, the media and the police relentlessly pressuring a “weak” attorney general.