Netanyahu to 'examine' Smotrich's proposal to cancel his trial

Bezalel Smotrich's plan for the judicial system will likely lead to the cancellation of parts of former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trial

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said he will examine a plan by Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich that includes canceling the crime of fraud and breach of trust, which Netanyahu is currently standing trial for.

"Many times I encounter friends who want to help me more than necessary. We will examine the proposal."

Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu

“Many times, I encounter friends who want to help me more than necessary,” Netanyahu said in an interview at the Manufacturers Association of Israel election conference. “We will examine the proposal. I do not intend to change any laws in the State of Israel.”

Smotrich presented his plan along with his party colleague MK Simcha Rothman at a press conference on Tuesday. The plan has many provisions, including one to erase from law the crime of fraud and breach of trust, which they said was too vague.

Netanyahu is standing trial for three counts of fraud and breach of trust. According to the existing law, if the crime for which a defendant is standing trial is erased, the charges are immediately dropped. This would leave one count of bribery.

 Head of the Religious Zionist Party MK Bezalel Smotrich  gives a press statement at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on May 26, 2021.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Head of the Religious Zionist Party MK Bezalel Smotrich gives a press statement at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on May 26, 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

This change would not apply to Netanyahu, Smotrich said at the conference, because he did want people to blame him for acting to free Netanyahu. Netanyahu would be acquitted in any case, and his trial is “the perfect music” to reveal the “pollution” of the legal system, he said.

The law would not cover Netanyahu’s case because it will not apply retroactively to trials that have already begun, Smotrich said.

It was highly doubtful that judges would convict Netanyahu for a crime that no longer exists, legal experts said Tuesday.

"The voice is the voice of Smotrich, but the hands are the hands of Netanyahu."

Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar

Netanyahu's hands behind Smotrich's voice: Gideon Sa'ar responds

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar wrote on Twitter: “Continuing on to the destination – canceling the trial – using fraudulent methods (‘We will examine,’ when it is clear who the law is coming to serve; ‘not retroactively,’ when the law explicitly states otherwise)... The voice is the voice of Smotrich, but the hands are the hands of Netanyahu.”