Netanyahu says ‘so what’ if police recommend indicting him

Movement for Quality Government attorney tells WIN: “The law does not require that the prime minister resign if the police recommend that he be indicted. But it looks bad.”

By Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech Wednesday night is the clearest indication yet that the Israeli leader expects police will soon recommend to the attorney general that he be indicted for corruption.

Speaking at a Likud Chanukah party in Kfar Maccabia, Netanyahu launched a fiery no-holds barred attack against the press, anti-corruption protesters and police over what he called the “waste of time and money” on investigations against him. “So what if there will be a police recommendation to indict me,” Netanyahu told the partisan crowd, “most indictment recommendations are tossed in the garbage.”

The prime minister slammed the weekly mass anti-corruption protests in Tel Aviv and claimed, “They know they cannot beat us at the polls. That’s why they are trying to defeat us with slander and demonstrations, organized and orchestrated among others by the left-wing New Israel Fund.” Netanyahu also attacked the media for leaking information about the investigations and for making predictions about his downfall.

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Michael Partem, an attorney for the Movement for Quality Government, told WIN, “This looks very bad and the pressure is growing on Netanyahu to step down.” Asked about the prime minister’s apparent belittling of a potential police recommendation that he be indicted, Partem said that there is no legal requirement that he leave office.

“A police recommendation is just that.  He has the legal right to wait for the attorney general to announce an indictment and it’s true that the police recommendation is not always accepted,” Partem said.

Regarding Netanyahu’s call in 2008 for then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign when police recommended that he be indicted Partem said, “The tables have certainly turned. Netanyahu said Olmert should leave office because of the difficulty in functioning while under investigation. It appears that Netanyahu plans to stay on until unless is out of legal options.”

PMO in panic mode

A former official in the prime minister’s office told WIN that Netanyahu’s speech was a clear indication that panic mode has set in.   He told WIN, “Netanyahu will pull out all stops on his way down. It’s very disturbing and a new low to hear the full frontal attack by the prime minister against the police. The speech was designed to cheer up the loyalists. It can tell you that the inner circle in the prime minister’s office is polishing up their CV’s.”

 Apparently, despite Netanyahu’s protestations, the police are building a substantial case. YNET quotes a senior police officer as saying, “We continue to investigate and overturn every rock in order to get to the truth and now we now have a case of bribery, not only accepting and receiving gifts. That is the reason that the investigation was extended. When everything is publicized, everyone will understand what materials we have collected.”

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At one point in his speech, Netanyahu likened himself to President Reuven Rivlin, who was once subject to police investigations yet never faced any charges. The president’s office told WIN that the assertion is factually incorrect. According to the official, “Police actually recommended closing the file in the Rivlin investigation for lack of evidence.”

Netanyahu concluded his remarks with a mantra repeated many times since the investigation began.  “These recommendations will be thrown aside and will end with nothing. And I say this for a simple reason: There will be nothing because there was nothing,” he said.

Netanyahu is being investigated in two corruption investigations, known as cases 1000 and 2000. In case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife Sara are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, including  hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne from Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan. Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid-pro-quo deal between Netanyahu and Yediot Aharonot newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes that would weaken the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom newspaper, in exchange for more favorable coverage from Yediot. The prime minister has been questioned seven times by police, most recently this past Friday.