Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proved on Monday night that anyone who presents himself as a victim radiates weakness and comes across pathetic, much more so a politician, and even more so a sitting prime minister. It began earlier, when Netanyahu announced that he would deliver a “dramatic declaration” to the nation from his Jerusalem residence, and his associates leaked to the media that the statement would contain new information regarding the investigations against him. Journalists were not allowed to enter the residence, and the prime minister did not answer questions.
When he finally reached the podium, it soon became clear that the prime minister, who is fighting for his political life against a series of police investigations and the threat of prosecution for some of them, had nothing new, never mind dramatic, to declare to the nation.
Or, to paraphrase Bibi’s favorite verse in the last two years, “There was nothing because there’s nothing new to say.”
Netanyahu claimed tonight that he had wanted to confront the state’s witnesses against him, but was twice denied this opportunity by the investigators in the corruption cases against him. According to him, rejecting his requests indicated that the investigations against him are biased.
“I reiterate this demand for a confrontation with the state’s witnesses, and with all the witnesses who have given statements that do not match my position,” Netanyahu professed, adding, “As far as I’m concerned, the confrontation can be live, so that the public could watch everything, hear everything and know the whole truth.”
Then he added wretchedly: “Why did they refuse to allow me this confrontation, which is so necessary to clarify the truth? What have they got to fear? What have they got to hide? I am not afraid because I have nothing to hide.”
With a graceful hint of a 4000 case against him (a case in which he was accused of taking care of the assets of Shaul Elovitch, owner of the telecommunications company Bezeq, in return for positive coverage on the Walla website, also owned by Elovitch), Netanyahu declared: “I am 4,000 percent sure of my innocence.”
The truth is that the police have no obligation to conduct a confrontation between a suspect and a witness. These encounters are usually reserved for the court room.
Netanyahu again claimed that he should not be summoned to a hearing before the April 9 elections, because there won’t be time enough for him to respond to the cases against him, placing him at a disadvantage with the voters. But his claim did not make anyone forget the fact that Bibi himself had decided on the date of the early elections. No one forced him, especially when a few weeks earlier he had announced that the security situation did not allow for elections for the time being.
The prime minister also complained that the media did not attack many MKs who supported a bill that would benefit Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Noni Mozes and harm Israel Hayom, which supports Netanyahu. Also, he argued, if he was investigated in connection with sympathetic press coverage, Yair Lapid’s connections with Noni Mozes should also be investigated.
And again, instead of sounding righteous, Bibi came across annoying and entitled, and was surprisingly reminiscent of President Richard Nixon in the summer of 1974, when it was already clear that his next trip from Washington would be either home to southern California or to jail, but not as president in either case.
In the end, there is no doubt that Bibi is afraid.