‘Attempted coup’: Defiant Netanyahu slams corruption indictment, says probe ‘tainted by foreign interests’
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu tore into the judicial authorities, calling the bribery indictment against him an “attempted coup” and hinting at the presence of “foreign interests” behind the three-year investigation.
Netanyahu denounced the “tainted procedure,” claiming it was the product of “foreign interests” trying to “carry out a legal revolution,” after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit released his indictment on Thursday. Netanyahu has been charged with bribery, fraud, and abuse of trust in three separate corruption cases.
“We need to investigate the investigators and the state prosecution which cooks these infected cases,” Netanyahu warned, hinting that he would not sit quietly while his reputation was being slimed.
“The public has lost trust in the legal system,” he declared, again eviscerating the “tainted procedure” – a phrase he repeated, by one journalist’s count, five times in his lengthy self-defense speech.
Mandelblit slammed the PM for attempting to “delegitimize the people who were involved” in the investigations. The decision to indict, he said, was made “with a heavy heart, but wholeheartedly.” Police began investigating Netanyahu on the current charges three years ago, and Mandelblit has been weighing whether to indict since February.
State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan has reportedly said that Netanyahu cannot hold the mandate to form a government with criminal charges pending against him – though Nitzan has yet to make the statement publicly. Israeli law does not require a PM to resign upon indictment, but with no government yet formed, two months after a second election failed to produce a clear victor, the Israeli leader’s future is uncertain.
Netanyahu is the first sitting Israeli PM to be indicted on criminal charges, and several Knesset members have already called on him to step down. His rival Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party pointedly posted a clip of Netanyahu himself from 11 years ago, declaring “A prime minister neck-deep in investigations does not have a moral and public mandate to make fateful decisions for the state of Israel.”