Former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s efforts to stay in power had endangered Israeli democracy, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit recently confided to associates, according to a Channel 12 report on Tuesday night.
“I saw things moving toward [a demand for] personal loyalty, which means a danger to democracy,” and as Netanyahu’s criminal cases moved forward, there was “a sophisticated attempt” to “change the DNA” of the justice system and the free press, Mandelblit said in transcripts of the conversations he reportedly had with unidentified persons.
“We got out of it by the grace of G-d,” he said.
He suspected that Netanyahu hoped to appoint judges that would be loyal to him and protect him from prosecution or conviction.
“Bring a certain lawyer, and a certain legal adviser, and certain deputy legal advisers, and a police chief who is ‘one of ours’ and so on. All these things could make us crumble from within,” Mandelblit was quoted as saying.
Apparently referring to Netanyahu’s claims that he was the victim of a “witch hunt,” he said: “We suddenly found ourselves in a fight for the legitimacy of the attorney general’s office, for the DNA of the Jewish people and the state of Israel in modern times.
“That, I think, is the entire story. It took me time to understand it.”
He added that while Netanyahu was no longer in charge, that “safeguards” need to be implemented for the threats of this kind in the future.
Channel 12 quoted a response from associates of Netanyahu: “These are messianic comments by a public servant who decided to replace the people, no less” — a reference to Netanyahu’s assertion that the cases against him were an attempt to remove him from power via the courts, since they cannot do so in a fair election.
“Mandelblit himself admits that he sought to bring down Prime Minister Netanyahu,” continued. “Mandelblit should be reminded that in a democracy the people choose their leaders, not the attorney general.”