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Legal official accuses Netanyahu of 'deceiving' Israeli public: report

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a "special statement" on January 8, 2019.
i24NEWS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “deceiving” the Israeli public, a senior official from the State Prosecutor’s Office told Army Radio on Tuesday, referring to Netanyahu’s hyped up TV statement on Monday about the criminal investigations against him.

“Netanyahu wants to assert his power, weight and status to disrupt the investigation. In a confrontation with him, those state witnesses could give a different statement than what they gave police,” Army Radio quoted the unnamed official as saying.

On Monday, Netanyahu’s office announced that the prime minister would make a “dramatic statement” later that evening, causing a lot of speculation in the media about the nature of the statement.

In an unprecedented TV appearance, Netanyahu took the opportunity to call out the legal systems in Israel that he claimed were being used to perpetrate an injustice against him, decrying that he was twice refused the ability to confront the state witnesses in the cases.

“Today, I reveal to you that during my investigations, I demanded a face-to-face confrontation with states witnesses. I was refused. I asked again. I was refused again,” he told his captive national audience.

The senior official told Army Radio that Netanyahu has no right to confront the state witnesses, calling his statement “inappropriate”.

“The Israeli public is being deceived, and not for the first time, by Netanyahu who is making use of the masses’ stupidity, meaning their lack of knowledge in those subjects. Anyway, no suspect has any right to a confrontation (during a police investigation) and it is inappropriate to hold an unnecessary and damaging confrontation,” the official said.

(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Netanyahu responded to the report by Army Radio on Tuesday, saying: “Yesterday I asked what are they afraid of. Now it is revealed that they are afraid of the truth. I demand to confront the state witnesses now. The public must know the whole truth.”

Opposition figures harshly criticized the statement as a stunt and said it was time for Netanyahu to be defeated.

“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,” Labor leader Avi Gabbay said following Netanyahu’s primetime statement. “Instead of dealing with the security of the residents of the south, the cost of living, or the health system collapsing, Netanyahu is busy rescuing himself from the investigations.”

"Netanyahu is no longer qualified to fulfill his role," opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich said, calling the speech a "fake drama".

Police have recommended Netanyahu's indictment in three separate corruption investigations and the attorney general is expected to announce his decision on whether to indict the prime minister in the weeks or months ahead.

The prime minister has faced widespread criticism in recent days for his efforts to publicly urge the attorney general not to issue his decision on indictments before the elections.

In his Monday speech, he said he has the right to criticize the legal proceedings and again argued that the attorney general moving to indict him before elections would be unjust.

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