Netanyahu Supporters to Rally Outside Court as PM Goes on Trial

YERUSHALAYIM -
netanyahu unity government
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during a swearing-in ceremony of his new unity government at the Knesset, last Sunday. (Adina Valman/Knesset Spokesperson’s Office/Handout via Reuters)

Likud MKs hit out against prosecutors, media and political opponents of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Motzoei Shabbos, just hours before the start of his trial.

Netanyahu will go down in history on Sunday at 3 p.m. as the first sitting prime minister to go on trial for public corruption, when he will appear at the Yerushalayim District Court.

A rally in support of the prime minister was scheduled to take place Sunday outside the court, with Likud ministers Amir Ohana and Miri Regev declaring they would accompany Netanyahu to his trial.

Other Likud MKs were also expected to accompany Netanyahu.

A separate protest against Netanyahu was also set to be held near the court, with police saying they will boost their presence in the area.

In an interview with Channel 12, Likud MK Miki Zohar railed against the media and the leftwing whom he said were responsible for Netanyahu’s legal woes.

“You did everything so there will be a picture of the prime minister at court because you didn’t know how to beat him at the ballot box,” Zohar said.

He also said if Netanyahu is ultimately convicted, it would be “the greatest injustice in Israel’s history, the greatest injustice in the Israeli democracy ever.”

“The public at home will say one thing: If the prime minister is not acquitted, we will lose our faith, we will lose our faith in the system,” Zohar said.

Minister Yoav Galant (Likud) also said that the press was “celebrating” to see Netanyahu on trial.

“The strong desire to see the photo of the prime minister on the defendants’ bench overtakes everything,” he wrote on social media.

Galant also lashed out at Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who indicted Netanyahu. “While Netanyahu is being given a field trial in the media and justice is being obstructed, prosecutors and the attorney general are refusing to reveal to the public the recordings of Mandelblit. What do they have to hide?” he said.

Galant was referring to recordings from the so-called Harpaz Affair, a 2010 scandal in which Mandelblit as the top military prosecutor was briefly suspected of having helped IDF brass cover up a smear campaign. The case against him was dropped.

Netanyahu loyalists and supporters have increased their attacks on Mandelblit in recent weeks, with Minister David Amsalem (Likud) saying that there was no dispute over the fact that the attorney general is “allegedly a criminal.”

Mandelblit filed a police complaint last week after receiving death threats and other harassing messages as part of what he described to police to be an organized campaign. Two suspects were later questioned by the Lahav 433 crimes unit.

Netanyahu is not the first Israeli leader to go on trial; both former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former President Moshe Katzav went to prison in the 2010s. But they stepped down from their position to fight the charges in court.

Netanyahu’s conspiratorial claims of victimhood have played well with his base of supporters. But it is unclear whether they will hold up in court, given the lack of evidence.

The case is expected to last for several years, given the vast number of witnesses and documents that are expected to be presented.