In his response to the announcement of charges by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he believes the attorney general caved to pressure by State Attorney Shai Nitzan, who completes his term next month.
The full indictment released by the Justice Ministry indicates that the prime minister is to be charged with fraud and breach of trust in Cases 1000 and 2000, and bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000.
In remarks that were televised following the announcement by the attorney general, Netanyahu said that he deeply respects the justice system in Israel, but “you have to be blind not to see that something bad is happening to police investigators and the prosecution. We’re seeing an attempted coup by the police with false accusations” made against him, he said.
The “tainted investigation process, including inventing new crimes, has reached its apex today,” he said. “This tainted process raises questions in the public about the police investigations and the prosecution. The public has lost trust in these institutions. It’s a process that has taken place over many years. This is selective enforcement on steroids. It’s enforcement just for me,” he said.
Netanyahu also called to establish an independent commission of inquiry to probe the conduct of investigators who worked on his cases, urging Israelis to demand, “Investigate the investigators.”
“It’s time to investigate the investigators, to investigate the prosecution that approves these tainted investigations. I respect the police, I respect the prosecutors. There are hundreds of them. But we have to understand that they’re not above criticism. This isn’t just about transparency, it’s about accountability.”
The prime minister, who has served at his post the longest in the nation’s history, rejected calls by opponents to resign in order to deal with the indictments.
“My sense of justice burns within me,” Netanyahu said.
“I cannot believe that the country I fought for and was wounded for, that I’ve brought to such achievements … that in this country, in its democracy, there will be this kind of tainted justice, of selective enforcement.
“I won’t let the lie win. I will continue to lead this country with devotion. For this country, for the rule of law, for justice, we have to do one thing: to finally investigate the investigators.”