Using a nationally broadcast address on Monday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded the opportunity to confront the state’s witness on TV so that the public will “learn the truth” about the ongoing investigations against him.
In what he said would be a “dramatic announcement” Monday evening, Prime Minister Netanyahu proclaimed his innocence and demanded the opportunity to confront his accusers face-to-face and in public, which thus far has been denied to him.
“The judicial system is one of the foundations of Israeli democracy. There are judges in Jerusalem. That’s how it has been and that is how it will be,” he said.
“I demanded a face-to-face confrontation with the state’s witnesses. I was refused. I asked again. I was refused again… Why do they refuse to give it to me?”
“Today, I repeat that demand, and as far as I am concerned, it should be on live television,” he declared. Regarding accusations of bribery, “what are they talking about? Money, bank accounts… It’s absurd…. “I know the truth. I am 4,000 percent sure of it.”
“Citizens of Israel, the left cannot beat us at the ballot so they’re looking for other ways to bring down the right,” Netanyahu said.
“I could have ended this persecution against me and my family that has been going on for years by dividing Jerusalem … but I will never do it. I’ll continue to defend Israel’s security. I’ll continue to demand truth and justice.”
“What are they afraid of? I’m not afraid. I have nothing to lose,” Netanyahu said, adding: “I’m willing for it to be livestreamed for the public to hear the full truth. I’m confident in my truth.” He described the investigation against him as “biased”.
The speech was the latest effort by Netanyahu to push back against the investigation and the attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit. It has been widely reported that Mandelblit is considering indicting Netanyahu before the elections on April 9th.
Netanyahu also used his national podium to accuse police investigators of ignoring other witnesses he claims could have testified in his favor.
The live statement from the prime minister’s residence caught even seasoned Netanyahu-watchers in Israel by surprise, coming just weeks after he called elections.
While Netanyahu has vociferously denied any wrongdoing – insisting he will continue to serve as prime minister and run for re-election – any indictments announced so close would inevitably prompt calls for him to step aside.
Netanyahu’s televised speech was immediately condemned by the Labor party leader, Avi Gabai. “In a normal country, a prime minister does not behave this way. In a normal country, the prime minister does not attack the law enforcement authorities,” Gabai said.
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