Netanyahu battles with permits committee over right to seek help funding his legal defense.
By David Isaac, World Israel News
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to wrangle with the State Comptroller’s Committee for Giving Permits to Ministers, Israeli media reports. The fight is over whether he can ask for help financing his legal defense as a possible criminal indictment looms.
The Ynet news site reports that “a few hours after the permits committee sent an ultimatum to the prime minister to provide details of his personal wealth by Friday, Netanyahu harshly attacked the committee.”
“The permits committee prevents the prime minister from receiving assistance in financing his legal defense, in contrast to other public figures who receive help funding their defense,” Netanyahu said.
“Without this aid, the prime minister doesn’t have the ability to defend himself against the huge resources amounting to hundreds of millions of shekels that the state invests in submitting an unprecedented and baseless indictment against him,” the prime minister said.
Two weeks ago, the committee informed Netanyahu that he would need to provide details about his personal assets if he wanted to pursue his request to receive financing from Spencer Partrich, an American millionaire and friend of Netanyahu, Ynet reports.
Netanyahu has not acceded to the request, saying that “Any information that was given to the committee was immediately leaked in a damaging and purposeful manner.”
“The prime minister has the right to defend himself against an indictment aimed at bringing down a prime minister and replacing a government in an undemocratic process,” he said.
The committee already twice rejected Netanyahu’s request to receive funds from wealthy donors toward his defense. In February, he was ordered by the permits committee to pay back $300,000 in contributions from his cousin Nathan Milikowsky and business suits given to him by Partrich.
One avenue to counter the legal threat hanging over the prime minister — making changes to Israel’s Immunity Law — appears to be closing after a public backlash following reports about the proposed amendments. Even some prominent members of the Likud, such as Gideon Sa’ar, opposed the idea.
A majority of the Israeli public also opposes changes to the Immunity Law. According to a new poll, 53 percent is against amending the law. The poll, published on May 20, was conducted by the Panels Politics polling agency on behalf of Walla! News.
Netanyahu faces possible indictment in three corruption cases, Cases 1000, 2000 and 4000.