(February 28, 2019 / JNS) Speaking out for the first time since the attorney general’s announcement of indictments, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the charges against him as “political persecution,” while touting his success in bolstering Israel’s security, foreign relations and the economy as leader.
“The policy I lead with my friends in the Likud led Israel to the best decade in its history in security, foreign relations, the economy, in every field,” Netanyahu said in a statement to the media from the prime minister’s residence. “We turned Israel into a rising world force, but we did it without concessions and bowing our heads. We did it while constantly nurturing our strength, even militarily.”
“The left knows that with such feats, they can’t beat us in the ballot,” continued Netanyahu. “That’s why for three years they have been carrying out political persecution against us in order to topple the right-wing government.”
Netanyahu also said that he has the support of world leaders such as U.S. President Donald Trump.
“I heard earlier the words of support that I received from U.S. President Donald Trump. I thank my friend President Trump for his statements and for his support.”
Earlier on Thursday, Trump said that he believes Netanyahu is “tough, smart and strong” and been a great leader for Israel.
Netanyahu also mentioned his recent trip to Moscow to meet with President Vladimir Putin. Netanyahu said he is working together with Putin to collaborate against Iran.
“This unique relationship with world leaders is no small matter, and for many years it has helped me to ensure our security, helped to preserve our country,” Netanyahu said.
Meanwhile, the Likud Party slammed the indictment charges against Netanyahu, calling them “political persecution.”
“Nobody is surprised by the attorney general’s announcement that came after three years of relentless pressure on him by the media, the left and judiciary bureaucrats to indict the prime minister at any cost — even when there isn’t anything, just to have it happen before the elections,” Likud says in a statement released immediately after Mandelblit’s announcement.
Several right-wing Israeli political parties said that they still would back Netanyahu as prime minister in the next government.
“Every person, including Benjamin Netanyahu, is innocent until proven guilty, and therefore the Union of Right Wing Parties will recommend after the elections that Prime Minister Netanyahu be the candidate to form a strong and stable right-wing government,” the Union of Right Wing Parties—comprised of Jewish Home, National Union and Otzma Yehudit—said in a statement.
Similarly, Shas said it would only support Netanyahu as the next prime minister, saying “Netanyahu is the most fitting person to lead the country at this time, and we will back him as prime minister as long as the law allows him.”
The New Right Party, headed by right-wing rival Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked said it “respected” the decision by the attorney general, but would “still recommend Netanyahu as head of the new government.”