Gantz: Netanyahu on Trial Can’t Lead Country

A Blue and White party election campaign poster, Benny Gantz and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, seen in Tel Aviv. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

Commenting on the announcement that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏ trial for allegations of corruption will start on March 17,” Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz said “This is a sad evening for the state of Israel and the citizens of Israel.”

At a campaign event in Rehovot, Gantz told the crowd that once the trial begins “Netanyahu will only deal with himself. He will not be able to care for the citizens of Israel.”

A prime minister, Gantz said, “must be free, focused and unburdened by any other interests.”

“Netanyahu is going to trial, and we will continue from here. We will take care of security, health, education and other state affairs, after three election campaigns… We will win and take Israel on a new path.”

Likud MK deputy defense minister Avi Dichter told Radio 103FM on Monday that Netanyahu will not be so preoccupied with the trial that he will be unable to run the government.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu is experienced enough and strong enough. He comes with 14 years of experience as prime minister and with the skills he has gained in multitasking,” Dichter said.

Other defenders of the prime minister have pointed out that his physical presence will only be required during the trial when he testified and when the verdict is announced. And since the proceedings may drag on for years, disruption of his official duties will not be as severe as his critics claim. They also observe that Netanyahu has been fully active in state matters in recent weeks, including the rollout of the Trump peace plan, despite ongoing legal issues.

Meanwhile on Tuesday evening, Channel 12 said that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is expected to submit an opinion to the High Court saying that Netanyahu should be allowed to form a government after the March election, despite the indictment against him.

In January, the High Court dismissed a petition to disqualify Netanyahu from forming a government due to the criminal cases.

The court deferred any decision on the matter at the time, saying it was “premature,” as Netanyahu had not yet been indicted and the election had not yet taken place.