In an impassioned 10-minute rebuttal to police recommendations to indict him on bribery and breach of trust charges, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the nation on Tuesday night that not only will this government complete its term, but he will again be re-elected in 2019.
Netanyahu said that the only thing that has motivated him since his days as an officer in the elite Sayeret Matkal, through his days as ambassador to the UN, finance minister and for the last nine years as prime minister, is the good of the country.
If he had wanted to enrich himself, Netanyahu said, “If that is what motivated me, I would a long time ago have been in a different place.”
“What motivates me is one thing,” he said in a statement from his residence, “to ensure the future of our state. Therefore I say to you, this government will fulfill its term, and together with the rest of the ministers of the government we will continue to turn Israel into a rising world power — an economic, technological and military superpower that enjoys its best international position ever.”
Netanyahu disassembled the charges against him, saying that rather than using his power to assist billionaire movie mogul Arnon Milchan, he actually supported laws to Milchan’s detriment. His working with the US authorities to get a visa for Milchan was not because of cigars that the mogul gave him, but rather because of work Milchan did as an intelligence operative in the past.
Regarding the recommendations that he be indicted in the case involving Yediot Ahronot and its alleged attempts to get Netanyahu to work against its rival newspaper Israel Hayom in return for positive coverage, Netanyahu said that he was opposed to the law that would have curbed Israel Hayom — acted against it, voted against it, and risked his political life in 2014 and called new elections because of it.
“Since I was elected prime minister, there was hardly a single day in which I was not subjected to slander and false claims,” he said. ”Over these years there have been no less than 15 investigations against me with the goal of bringing me down,” he said. “They all began with explosive headlines, live broadcasts from the studios, and some of them even with noisy police recommendations [to indict], just like today.”
And, he said, “all these attempts ended with nothing, because I know the truth: I tell you, these too will end with nothing.”
Netanyahu, who for weeks has been preparing the public for what he said was a foregone conclusion – that the police would recommend an indictment – said that in a democratic regime, the police recommendations have no standing.
“I am not saying this defiantly, but as a basic fact of our democracy. Israel is a state of law, and according to the law, the police do not determine and decide, but only the authorized legal bodies.” He pointed out that over half of the police recommendations on indictments are not accepted.
“I am sure that the truth will come to light,” Netanyahu said in concluding his remarks. “And I am certain that in the next elections that will take place on time, I will regain your faith – with God's help.