Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to the indictments against him on Thursday night in an impassioned speech accusing the justice system of an “infected process,” declaring that “the time has come to investigate the investigators,” and vowing to continue leading the country despite his legal battles.
In combative posture, Netanyahu claimed, as he has before, that corruption allegations against him were, in effect, an attempted coup, and that the investigators “weren’t after the truth, they were after me.” He called for a commission to investigate the handling of the cases for which he is being indicted.
“State witnesses were abused by police to get them to lie against me,” the prime minister said, citing coercive interrogation tactics used on Nir Hefetz, who, he said was threatened by police with personal ruin if he would not cooperate to incriminate him.
Appearing angry and distraught, Netanyahu said that “I dedicated my life for the state.” I fought for it, was wounded for it and am very proud for that. But this is a sad day. One needs to be blind to not see that something bad is happening in the legal system.”
He noted as well that the daily attacks on him and his wife in the media have been a nightmare. “I am also a person, and I don’t mind admitting that this has been very hard for me.”
Netanyahu called attention to the timing of the indictments, in the midst of an unprecedented political crisis, with the country facing the uncertainty of yet another round of elections and paralysis spreading in the government and the economy.
“But this is a sad day. I respect the legal establishment in Israel, but one needs to be blind to not see that something bad is happening in the legal system.”
He asserted that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit “was simply not able to withstand the pressure” brought upon him by Chief Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and the others.
At the end, he repeated that “the time has come to investigate the investigators, who are not above the law.”