Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit yesterday indicted PM Netanyahu on charges on charges which include bribery, fraud and breach of trust. It is the first time in the nation’s history a sitting premier faces a criminal trial. According to the indictment, Netanyahu accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends, offered to trade favors with a newspaper publisher and used his influence to help a wealthy telecom magnate in exchange for favorable coverage on a popular news site.
It could take many months before the cases are brought before the court. Netanyahu could also seek a plea deal rather than stand trial. Netanyahu’s supporters in the Knesset could move to pass a bill granting him parliamentary immunity from prosecution, but with no clear majority in the Knesset, it’s unclear how such a bill would pass.
To read more detail about the indictment charges click here.
The PM called the indictment against him a “government coup” and pledged to continue leading the country. He said, “This evening we are witnesses to an attempted government coup against the prime minister, using false allegations and stained investigations. You must have noticed that the attorney general’s decision was made and announced at an unprecedented speed, and I would say during the most sensitive time for our political system since the establishment of the state.” And he continues along the same train of thought for quite a while.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said, “Netanyahu is a richly deserving person. I made the decision to indict him with a heavy heart, but with a whole heart. Law enforcement is not a matter of choice, it’s not a matter of left or right, it’s not a matter of politics, it’s my duty to the citizens of this country. The public interest demands that no-one should be above the law. It’s a hard day, but also an important day.”
Now What? Netanyahu can still legally run for election and form a government, which is what he will almost definitely do. And if he succeeds in finally forming a government, there’s a very good chance that its first order of business will be to pass legislation to grant him immunity from prosecution. So, the voters will decide.
In other news, tens of thousands of Jews will be spending this Shabbat in Hebron, which coincides with the weekly Torah reading of Chayeh Sarah, which recounts the story of Abraham purchasing the Cave of the Patriarchs. And we’ve never left.