Former state attorney Shai Nitzan on Thursday aggressively satirized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent claims that the corruption cases against him are “falling apart.”
Speaking at a Bar-Ilan University Conference, Nitzan said he was watching Netanyahu’s interview with Channel 12’s Yonit Levy and when he heard Netanyahu’s claim, he said, with a very sarcastic expression, “Ooops, is there some dramatic development I missed?”
Calling Netanyahu’s statement about his trial “complete political demagoguery,” he said, “so let him go to court and finally let his case be heard.”
The former state attorney also lashed out at Religious Zionist Party candidate Simcha Rothman for demanding that Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit be sacked after the election.
“The grounds for calling for the dismissal of the attorney-general derives from the filing of an indictment” against Netanyahu. “This is disgraceful and embarrassing,” he said.
Furthermore, he said, “the French law is problematic…Imagine there is strong evidence of bribery or sexual crimes. Can a man like that continue to be prime minister for six to eight years as if nothing happened? This is a big problem. Once upon a time, people would resign. Now that is less common.”
Nitzan also portrayed Netanyahu’s shift to constantly attacking the legal establishment as a completely self-interested reversal. It only began after he came under legal scrutiny, and despite decades of defending the rule of law until that point.
In contrast, Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli said that she thought that only the “tone and style” of his abrasive attacks on the legal establishment related to Netanyahu’s personal legal problems.
The larger ideological shift on the political right to attacking the legal establishment came after the judiciary intervened in cases against certain Jewish settler outposts.
Michaeli said that the settler camp was ready to bring down the entire legal establishment in order to maintain control over as much of Judea and Samaria as possible, and to establish new facts on the ground.
At the other end of the political spectrum, former justice minister and senior Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked said that the High Court of Justice was out of control in intervening over the Knesset’s powers.
She said the Knesset needs to pass a basic law to allow it to override High Court vetoes with a bare absolute majority of 61 MKs. If the override vote is raised to 70 or 80 MKs, as some legal officials would accept, it would not be usable or realistic, she said.
Shaked was ready to criticize the most recent government for abusing basic laws in strange ways and for “handcuffing the Knesset’s hands”, preventing it from fixing these abuses by preventing changes in the coalition government with anything less than a super-majority vote.
She suggested that the Knesset itself should pass a law to make it harder to change or abuse basic laws.
Regarding the Judicial Selection Committee, Shaked said that High Court justices should be subjected to public hearings and political officials should have more power than judicial officials.
Currently, either the political or the judicial officials on the committee can veto the other side’s preferences, forcing negotiations and tradeoffs.