(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised Monday that he would remain in office despite his criminal investigations that appear to be intensifying.
Speaking in a special Knesset session requested by the opposition, in which he was required to listen to critical speeches by opposition MKs, Netanyahu mocked his critics and vowed to outlast them.
“Prime ministers are replaced in ballot boxes,” Netanyahu said.
When Zionist Union faction head Yoel Hasson heckled him, saying, “And corrupt prime ministers go home,” Netanyahu turned to him and said, “The public has decided again and again that I will be prime minister and stand here, and you will sit there.”
In the debate that was focused on diplomatic issues, opposition MKs blamed Netanyahu for the lack of progress in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog told Netanyahu that had he, Netanyahu, been prime minister at the time, he would have rejected the peace offer from Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat.
Netanyahu responded that opposition MKs just want him to withdraw from land in Judea and Samaria. He said he has received letters recently praising him from the leaders of the US, China, and Japan and an invitation to visit India.
“There is a diplomatic renaissance,” Netanyahu said. “We’re not missing diplomatic opportunities. We’re creating diplomatic opportunities. We are becoming a rising international force. You can’t sweep it under the rug.”
Meretz MK Michal Rozin, who initiated the special session, responded by heckling that Israel was suffering from a “renaissance of corruption.”
Hasson said that one day Netanyahu will look back at more than a decade in office as a pensioner and will not be able to count a single accomplishment. Netanyahu responded that were it not for what Israel has done under him, Iran would have nuclear weapons by now.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid lamented that Netanyahu had fallen from being a statesmanlike leader to one facing multiple criminal investigations and a staff in and out of police questioning. He slammed Netanyahu for not supporting the attorney-general, state comptroller, and police inspector-general that he had appointed when they have faced recent attacks.
Left-wing activist Eldad Yaniv, who initiated the anticorruption rallies in Petah Tikva a year ago, slammed the opposition for missing opportunities in the Knesset session. “Bibi is screwed into his chair, required to listen, and the opposition gathered 40 signatures for a special session, but most of the opposition MKs are not in the room,” Yaniv complained on Twitter.
“They go up, one after another and beg: When will there be a diplomatic process? They say ‘We will support you’ as if there are no investigations and everything is normal. Dishrags.”