Benny Gantz: A painful evening for every Israeli patriot

"Sitting with Binyamin Netanyahu is not on the agenda," clarifies Blue and White leader after A-G's decision to indict the PM.

Hezki Baruch ,

Benny Gantz
Benny Gantz
Kobi Richter/TPS

The chairman of the Blue and White party, Benny Gantz, on Thursday evening responded to the Attorney General's decision to indict Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, subject to a hearing.

"Tonight is a difficult evening for the State of Israel and its citizens. An evening in which the Attorney General decides to file an indictment subject to a hearing against an incumbent Prime Minister is a painful evening for every Israeli patriot. Everyone to whom the state and its institutions are important is sad on this evening, and I also have no joy as a political rival," Gantz said.

"I know Netanyahu well. We worked shoulder to shoulder, I saw him in great and difficult moments, and I know how much he loves the State of Israel. But the Netanyahu whom I knew would not drag the state and the people into a situation where there is a part-time prime minister,” he continued.

The State of Israel deserves better than that, said Gantz. "Binyamin Netanyahu, you too understand how important state institutions are. I urge you to desist from the personal attacks on the senior officers you yourself appointed, and on the judicial system. I would have expected that on this evening you would give a proper speech as Prime Minister and avoid a political campaign that crosses red lines."

The chairman of the Blue and White Party called on Netanyahu to resign, saying, "I would expect you to conduct your struggle as a private person. I wish you success in this. Mr. Netanyahu, do not forget - this country belongs to all of us, and there is no question of right and left, because Israel comes before everything else. Today, unfortunately, you chose to march in a way that is not appropriate for a prime minister in Israel. Instead of choosing the best interests of the people, you choose your own personal good.”

"This country is dear to us, and I am convinced that it is dear to you too. Citizens of Israel, tonight, with the publication of the recommendations and given the circumstances, sitting with Binyamin Netanyahu is not on the agenda. I call on you Netanyahu - show responsibility and resign from your job. If and when you prove your innocence, you can return to the public arena with your head high," added Gantz.

The Likud party responded to Benny Gantz's criticism and said, "The presumption of innocence is applicable for everyone, including Benny Gantz, and we hope that he will clear his name as soon as possible from the serious accusations against him."

Earlier on Thursday, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced that Netanyahu would face charges of breach of trust and fraud in the Case 1000 and 2000 investigations. Netanyahu could also face bribery charges in the Case 4000 investigation, Mandelblit said – but only after Netanyahu is invited to face the allegations against him in a hearing.

Case 1000, sometimes referred to as the “Gifts Investigation” or the “Champagne Scandal”, revolves around claims Netanyahu offered favors in exchange for the roughly one million shekels ($275,000) in gifts he received, mostly from businessman Arnon Milchan.

In Case 2000, Netanyahu is alleged to have backed a bill in the Knesset which would have barred the Israel Hayom newspaper from being distributed freely, to the benefit of the paper’s rival, Yediot Aharonot. In exchange, it was alleged, Netanyahu was offered favorable coverage in Yediot Aharonot.

In the Case 4000 investigation, Netanyahu is alleged to have offered to advance regulatory changes beneficial to the Bezeq telecom company in exchange for favorable coverage at the Walla! news site owned by Bezeq’s controlling shareholder, Shaul Elovitch.