With newly appointed ministers behind him, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has now declared that his trial opened on Sunday is “an effort to bring him down” and his right-wing political camp.
Netanyahu arrived in court escorted by his supporters from the government, part of them in charge of the enforcement agencies and appointment committee of court judges. Facing a “battle for life”, Netanyahu is striving to use its government power as the most effective weapon.
He has endeavored from the beginning of his investigations to depict himself as “a victim of a witch hunt” led by the left-wing side.
The corruption trials of Netanyahu in three different cases involve serious charges of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust.
But no one could imagine anyone else able to form an alternative government in the near future, even Benny Gantz.And not many believe that Netanyahu would hand over the post of prime minister to Gantz in 2021.
Benny Gantz, an alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister, signed a rotation agreement with Netanyahu, which enabled the latter to establish the government, in the act of uniting the Israeli society during the COVID-19 crisis.
Yossi Shain, head of the school of political science at Tel Aviv University, said in an interview with Xinhua that Gantz is trying not to break the government right now.
“He doesn’t see any value of destroying the government by condemning Netanyahu,” which will immediately bring the government down, said Shain.
Gantz, a former chief of staff of the Israeli military, entered the politics a year ago claiming to overthrow “corrupted” Netanyahu.
But after three elections, they joined hands. Gayil Talshir, an expert on Israeli democracy at the department of politics in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said Gantz has prevented Netanyahu from using the government to terminate his trial completely.
If Netanyahu had been able to form his dream government without Gantz which just consisted of right-wing parties, they could pass laws that undermine the trial at least as long as Netanyahu is the acting PM.
“I think that we will hear many statements of Netanyahu’s party members against the trial, the judges, and the police,” Talshir said in an interview with Xinhua.
Netanyahu just minutes before his trial started said in his speech to the media that the former head of the Israeli police, which he appointed, committed criminal offenses as leaking information from PM investigations.
Netanyahu accused the official of wrongdoings, as well another high-ranking police officer. “These are the people who led the investigations against me,” he said.
“I am sure they did this deliberately and willingly.”Talshir thinks that the new appointee by Netanyahu for the minister of public security who is now in charge of the police would make sure no new investigations against the prime minister would happen.
Analysts said some ministers appointed by the new government may not be the best fit for their public positions, but perfect for helping Netanyahu in the trial.
Netanyahu, 70-year-old and the longest-serving prime minister in the history of Israel, was elected firstly in 1996, served until 1999, and has been in power continuously since 2009.
Meanwhile, he has been indicted in three cases, including receiving gifts from billionaires in exchange for visa extension and tax reduction laws, helping a prominent publisher close its competitor in exchange for less negative coverage, and promoting regulatory decisions in favor of a telecom giant in exchange for positive coverage.