Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defiantly responded to corruption charges Thursday after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced that the prime minister had been indicted.
Netanyahu gave a speech after the announcement and took a page from President Donald Trump’s playbook, calling the two-year investigation into his conduct by the Israeli police a “witch hunt,” according to The Jerusalem Post.
Mandelbilt announced that his office was charging Netanyahu with two counts of fraud and breach of trust and one count of bribery. Police allege that the prime minister accepted “gifts” from billionaires, had a “bribe-based” relationship with Israeli tech giant Bezeq and offered legislation that would have benefited one of the biggest newspapers in the country in exchange for positive coverage, NBC News reported.
With elections coming up in April, Netanyahu denied all claims against him, blaming accusations on the opposition’s attempts to put someone else in office: “The Left knows they cannot compete with these achievements in the voting booth, so they put massive pressure on the attorney general to indict even though there is nothing, in order to influence the elections and put the Left in charge.”
“I’ve never seen the Left so happy,” he continued, saying they are “sewing suits” in expectation of replacing his position.
Police have previously recommended indicting the prime minister in three different cases, and while Netanyahu argues that Thursday’s announcement comes too close to the April 9 elections, the Israel Democracy Institute says it came “within a reasonable amount of time before the elections … ” (RELATED: Yet Another Netanyahu Investigator Recommends Corruption Indictment: Report)
The prime minister appeared choked up while talking about the charges and the “seven circles of hell” his family has been through for “three years,” but he also stood his ground, saying, “I am not being given the chance to disprove [the accusations] until after the election — and I will disprove them all.”
“I plan to continue serving you as prime minister for many more years, but it’s up to you, not the bureaucrats or the commentators and reporters. Don’t let the witch hunt confuse you,” he concluded.
Trump and Netanyahu have had a very positive relationship since the president took office and declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. The prime minister has visited the White House and praised Trump for his actions in Israel, even going so far as to compare the president to King Cyrus the Great, the Persian monarch who allowed the Jews to return from their Babylonian captivity.
Trump said the United States’ relationship with Israel is “probably the best … that we ever had.”
Netanyahu said he has “less disagreements with Trump than he had with President Obama,” and he has yet to encounter “any disagreement with Trump.”