Judgement Day has come for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - opinion

It is not my intention to express an opinion, raise a hypothesis or recommend any conclusions regarding the charges filed against Netanyahu.

PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu waits at the District Court in Jerusalem on Monday. (photo credit: REUVEN KASTRO/POOL/FLASH 90)
PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu waits at the District Court in Jerusalem on Monday.
(photo credit: REUVEN KASTRO/POOL/FLASH 90)
 This week, the trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu started as planned. Cases 1000, 2000 and 4000 are finally reaching the stage in which three judges in Jerusalem will decide the fate of the prime minister, for better or for worse. Since the investigation against the prime minister began, and throughout the long and tedious years when he was investigated and public discourse took place, I never said a word about the suspicions, the charges and the state prosecutor’s decisions. I will certainly not stray from my path this week either.
It is not my intention to express an opinion, raise a hypothesis or recommend any conclusions regarding the charges filed against Netanyahu. I truly believe that every defendant is innocent until proven guilty in a lawful procedure by judges who were legally appointed to do so in court. I believed this was also my right while I was prime minister when the investigation against me began.
The state prosecutors ignored this right and insisted on having a preliminary testimony before indictment, which was unprecedented in Israel’s legal history until then and since then. They demanded that I sit on the defendant’s bench while the preliminary procedure was given, even though I had not yet been charged and the investigation had just begun. I was not given this indelible right, which is one of the keystones of Israel law, by the media in the broadest possible definition of media.
And most importantly, I never received this privilege from the person who is now on trial – the current prime minister who at the time was the leader of the opposition. He demanded that I step down from my position immediately, since, according to him, a prime minister who is under investigation cannot properly fulfill his role, and there was concern that decisions I would make could be influenced by the legal situation and my natural desire to defend myself. Moreover, it was clear all along that all of the suspicions for which I was being investigated had no connection with my term as prime minister.
It’s true that I resigned from my position before an indictment was filed against me, before I was summoned to a hearing, and before the police reached a conclusion regarding my investigation. I did so in order to prevent the country from having to undergo the spectacle of deceit that is hanging over Israel like a black cloud for years now. I wanted to spare myself, and especially the citizens of Israel, from the unbearable experience of hearing arguments that begin with low tones that can quickly degenerate into a confrontation, accusations, clashes with the police, the prosecutor’s office and the attorney general that ends with riots as we’ve seen in recent years.
EVERYTHING THAT is related to the trial will be decided during the trial itself by the judges. Everything else – everything that happens outside of the legal process is of interest to us and I would like to say a few things about it.
Bibi Netanyahu is a criminal, a crook with no inhibitions. If for nothing else, this is due to all the things he’s done to try to avoid reaching this moment to stand trial in a courthouse.
Never, in Israel’s short history has there been someone who was willing to shatter the foundations of the glorious democracy that was created here in Israel over the years. He is willing to do anything to avoid being investigated, to thwart a substantive examination from taking place, even if it destroys the reputation of law enforcement authorities.
Netanyahu’s announcement that the decision to prosecute him is a ploy designed to carry out a coup. The defamation of the attorney-general, casting suspicion on the state prosecutor at the time with extraneous motives, the direct clash with the police commissioner and later the character assassination and firing of him – all these actions are unprecedented not only in Israel, but in many respectable democracies that we look up to.
In actuality, it was quite coincidental that the investigation against Netanyahu and the decision to prosecute him occurred in parallel with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Even under normal circumstances, a prime minister under investigation would find it difficult to fulfill his duties. All the more so it would be difficult to function while the country is undergoing a catastrophe like a pandemic.
There is hardly a person, doctor, expert or politician –, except for the Netanyahu gang members made up partly of Likud ministers whose political fate depends entirely on the good will of the prime minister – who does not believe that the manner the government has dealt with COVID-19 borders on criminal negligence, disregard for citizens’ well-being and a complete absence of any sense of proportion as to what is necessary and essential for the public. Many people involved in the decision-making process vis-à-vis the coronavirus are convinced that Netanyahu’s decisions have been tainted by conflicts of interest.
THERE IS only one thing that matters to Netanyahu: himself. Even as over 5,000 Israelis have died from the coronavirus, the only thing that Netanyahu is truly preoccupied with is himself and his upcoming trial. Netanyahu’s behavior and of his family members – especially his delusional wife and his disturbed, rude and spoiled son Yair – is that of people who believe they are being pursued, and anyone who crosses their path is likely to get hurt, humiliated and discredited. The last five election campaigns in Israel were held because of issues related to Netanyahu, his personal interests and his political needs.
The first election took place because of a matter that today seems marginal: a desire to enact a law that would regulate the status of  Israel Hayom. Israel Hayom could have been a legitimate newspaper if it had not been distributed for free – even a symbolic amount would have made a difference. Distributing it for free, however, made it seem like an act of bribery carried out by an American gangster who doesn’t live in Israel, but feels as if he can buy its citizens and gain political influence. And to a certain extent, he succeeded.
The fact that Netanyahu decided to advance the date of the 2015 election due to the initiative to impose restrictions on the distribution of the newspaper is conclusive proof that Israel Hayom is not a newspaper in the accepted definition of the word, but instead is a personal, private and deceitful arm of the prime minister.
The newspaper does employ a number of talented and experienced journalists, as well as a shrewd and capable editor. The paper does not, however, operate as do other newspapers, including the one for which I write. The paper functions as a valuable propaganda machine worth hundreds of millions of shekels that is in the service of one single individual. All of the recent elections since 2019 have been held precisely according to the prime minister’s political and personal needs.
There’s nothing Netanyahu will not cling to in order to save himself. We’ve learned over the years that there is no value that Netanyahu is not willing to crush and distort if it serves his own needs.
The most sensitive security issues, the most important foreign relations, the strategic dangers of  concern to Israel, as well as basic human rights, state funds, citizens’ health, the economic stability of hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens – all of these have become subjugated to the crazy obsession of the shameless coward who apparently knows that he has no chance of winning in a legitimate legal battle in court.
All of his supporters, the group of admirers in his party and some commentators in the media who shamelessly gave support for everything he has done, will have to stand before he court of public opinion at some point in the future. No excuses will be accepted and no explanations will be considered legitimate. Everyone will be held accountable for the filthy conduct that enabled Netanyahu to cause so much damage.
He deserves to sit in prison for many years – not for the charges he is indicted for which be determined in court, but for what he did to the country to try and avoid these charges. 
The writer was the 12th prime minister of Israel.


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