The Times of Israel is liveblogging Thursday’s events as they unfold.
Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief rival who yesterday conceded he failed in forming a coalition, issues a short response to the criminal charges against the premier.
“A sad day for the State of Israel,” Gantz says in a tweet.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a lot going for him. The decision to file charges against him was made with a heavy heart but wholeheartedly,” Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit says.
“The process was professional and serious,” he says, slamming attacks on the process and “partial and tendentious, not to say distorted” media reports and leaks about the investigations throughout the process.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit at a press conference announces his decision to charge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in three corruption cases, as the Justice Ministry released in a statement an hour ago.
Mandelblit details the fraud and breach of trust allegations against Netanyahu in all three cases, and bribery in one of them.
He says the decision was made “only for legal considerations and based on evidence. No other consideration influenced me.”
He says the “violent” discourse against the legal system must stop and be “denounced.”
“There is a difference between criticism and baseless conspiracy theories,” he says in response to countless attacks by Netanyahu and his loyalists.
He says he did not hesitate to close other investigations involving the premier when he found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
Now that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces formal indictment, he will have to give up the other ministerial portfolios he holds.
Netanyahu is currently health minister, welfare minister and diaspora minister. Until recently, he also served as defense minister and previously he also held the foreign affairs portfolio, among others.
Israeli law requires a minister to step down if charged with a criminal offense, but not the prime minister.
Center-left reactions to the charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu keep pouring in, with all calling on him to step down.
Blue and White’s Gabi Ashkenazi says: “The day that an indictment is filed against a prime minister is a sad day for the State of Israel. I hope for Netanyahu’s sake and for that of the citizens of the State of Israel that he will be acquitted but there is no doubt that he must now concentrate on his own case rather than on running the state.”
Democratic Camp’s Stav Shaffir: “Today the Netanyahu era is over. If he had a drop of honor he would resign this evening. If Likud and right-wing MKs have any respect for their constituents they would oust him. If we go to elections again or if he remains in power for another few months of shameful rule, from today on it is possible to plan for the day after Bibi. Connect the tribes, eliminate the hatred, work for tomorrow.”
Labor-Gesher’s Itzik Shmuli calls it the “most serious indictment against an elected official in the history of the state,” adding: “Netanyahu lost all moral and public justification to make decisions on behalf of the people.”
Blue and White’s Ofer Shelah: “Netanyahu and his loyalists are engaged in a last-ditch effort to destroy the justice system to save Bibi. This cannot be allowed to happen. And we cannot allow someone indicted for bribery to be prime minister.”
The Blue and White party posts a video of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking 11 years ago — as then-premier Ehud Olmert battled corruption allegations — in which the Likud leader said a prime minister could not function under criminal investigation.
Netanyahu says in the video: “A prime minister neck deep in investigations does not have a moral and public mandate to make fateful decisions for the State of Israel. There is a fear, I must say, and it is real and not unfounded, that he will make his decisions for his personal interest of political survival, not for the national interests
Source: Times of Israel