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Friday, January 03, 2020 

Supreme court wisely rejects legal petitions against Netanyahu

The supreme court wisely turned down the last of the legal challenges to Netanyahu's leadership:
The High Court of Justice rejected the last remaining legal challenge to Benjamin Netanyahu remaining prime minister, following his indictment for bribery on November 21.

As a result, Netanyahu will remain prime minister at least until March 2 and could potentially continue afterward, even at such point as his trial for bribery begins.

The Likud responded that the court was right to reject the petition, because “in a democracy, only the people decide who will lead them.”

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz also praised the verdict, saying it was the correct decision and “Netanyahu must be defeated in the court of public opinion in the ballot box.”
Oh, look, the "moralist" has spoken. Gantz only backed off supporting this step when it became clear it was backfiring in the court of public opinion.
Technically, the court only ordered the petition withdrawn and did not reject it fully, leaving the door open to disqualifying Netanyahu post-election.

But in practical terms, and from the tone of the ruling, the court has made it clear it wants no part in forcing Netanyahu out of office any earlier than at a point where the law demands this unambiguously, leaving the question of who leads the country to the voters.
Ruthie Blum addressed what transpired this week as the court made a sage choice:
...the 10-minute televised speech he delivered from a podium at the Orient Hotel in Jerusalem was riveting. Not only was it better in tone and craftsmanship than many other of his recent statements, but it served as a reminder to anyone distracted by his indictments that his long-standing tenure is due to a lot more than his gift of the gab or clever manipulation of the political system.

He began by highlighting the latest, and in some ways most impressive, cause for a countrywide celebration: the launch of operations at the Leviathan natural-gas reservoir, discovered in 2010 in Israel’s territorial waters.

Addressing the “citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu said, “Today marks... the best decade in Israeli history.”

“Finally,” he pointed out, after a 10-year battle with the naysayers on the Left – who fought tooth-and-nail to demonize and block Leviathan – “we have extracted the gas from the water. Tomorrow, I’m traveling to Greece to advance the installation of the pipeline that will export Israeli gas to Europe, which will infuse hundreds of billions of shekels [into the economy] for the elderly, the children, the hospitals and health system, the schools and education system [and] welfare, for each and every one of you.”

He went on, “I intend to continue to lead Israel for many more years [in the pursuit of] historical achievements... that once we could only dream of and now are actually within reach. Together we will strengthen our economy. We will stop Iran. We will determine our borders. We will enter into a defense pact with the United States. We will forge peace with additional Arab countries. And we will extend sovereignty over our land.”

He punctuated this with a dig at his detractors, “who have nothing to offer other than incitement against me... [and] seem to find it difficult to deal with the fact that we have turned Israel into the world’s eighth most powerful country.”

Only then did he get down to the nitty-gritty that viewers has anticipated and were waiting for.

“Many of you think – because it’s what you’ve been told – that immunity for elected officials is permanent; that it enables [a suspect] never to stand trial. This is simply not true. According to the law, immunity is always temporary, ending with the term of the Knesset that granted it. If the Knesset is incumbent for three months, for example, as is currently the case, the immunity is canceled after three months. According to the law, there is no possibility, for anyone, to avoid standing trial. Thus, when I was asked by Channel 12 [whether I] will try to advance a law or make any other move to prevent [my] being tried in court, I replied, ‘No way.’

“I meant those words then, and I am not retracting them now... I didn’t promote or change any law. I intend to appear in court to smash the unfounded libels against me.”

HE CONTINUED, “The Immunity Law was aimed at protecting elected officials from manufactured cases [and] politically motivated indictments [that undermine] the will of the people, not the will of bureaucrats.” [...]

THE NEXT item on Netanyahu’s agenda was the blatant double standard that has been applied to any testimony or emerging facts which bolster his innocence. While “systematic criminal leaks” from state’s witnesses not only are tolerated but “put in the spotlight,” any material that might exonerate Netanyahu or paint him in a more favorable light remains in the pitch dark, under air-tight gag orders. These, he said, should be removed so that the public can be privy to the “whole truth.”

He also highlighted the different treatment received by those “on the right side of the media and the Left” – such as Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz and his sidekick, Yair Lapid – whose own “serious violations of the law” have elicited barely a yawn. They certainly didn’t spark investigations or indictments.

But then, running on the “anybody but Bibi” ticket means never having to request immunity. Even for the crime of stupidity.

This is lucky for Gantz, whose response to Netanyahu’s announcement was idiotic, at best. At worst, it reeked of petulance; revealed a lack of familiarity with the Immunity Law; and suggested that he hadn’t listened to or understood Netanyahu’s speech.

“Netanyahu knows he’s guilty,” Gantz huffed. “A person who believes he’s innocent is not afraid to stand trial. Either we’ll have a radical immunity government or a unified national one.... Immunity is not the bedrock of democracy; it is a detriment to democracy. Blue and White will make every possible legal effort to establish the Knesset House Committee in order to prevent immunity from those indicted for crimes.”

Gantz’s reaction was predictable. He had just kicked off his campaign for the third round of Knesset elections since April, these ones slated for March 2. His ambition is to replace Bibi on Balfour Street, the location of the Prime Minister’s Residence. To achieve this goal, he has to woo and wow the public with his platform, which consists mainly of vilifying Netanyahu. Even at this endeavor he’s a rookie, though, as his comments prove.
Gantz's approach is so boring, and compounds his lack of a solid campaign built on real issues. This is what has to be made clear during the current election campaign.

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