Senior Likud lawmakers rallied behind embattled Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced Thursday night he was approving indictments against Netanyahu in the Case 1000, 2000, and 4000 investigations.
Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz responded to the indictments Friday morning, saying that he would stand behind the prime minister ‘in this difficult time’, calling Netanyahu an “Israeli patriot”.
“I support Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and give him my full backing in this difficult time. Israel is a country of laws, and the presumption of innocence is enjoyed by everyone, and that certainly includes Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and Israeli patriot who sacrificed and worked all his life for the security of the State of Israel and to improve its standing in the world.”
Katz added that despite the Attorney General’s announcement, Netanyahu could still continue to serve as premier.
“It is worthwhile for our political rivals to internalize that so long as there are no legal disqualifications to Netanyahu’s serving as prime minister, he can continue in his position, and only the [voting] public and its representatives in the Knesset will decide, in the democratic fashion, who will lead the State of Israel during this challenging time.”
Justice Minister Amir Ohana, also of the Likud, said Thursday night that he was ‘proud to stand by Netanyahu’ after the indictments.
“I am proud to be standing alongside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The prime minister is not guilty. He is not guilty because that is what the law states and because this is our legal system.
“In the State of Israel, a person's guilt must be proven in court. Not in television studios, not on social networks, not even in the prosecutor's office.
“In my professional life, I have seen many indictments that have collapsed. A host of public figures have previously faced charges - and have been acquitted. Yaakov Neeman. Rafael Eitan. Avigdor Kahalani. There is no doubt in my mind when I say and allow myself to determine, from personal knowledge: Binyamin Netanyahu is not a corrupt person.
“He gave his best years to the State of Israel, its foreign relations and its security. Instead of looking after his own interests - he looked after the interests of his people. He looked after the interests of his country.”
Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev also expressed support for Netanyahu Thursday night, backing his decision to stay on as premier.
"I want to encourage the prime minister and his family at this difficult time. It was noticeable during his speech that he was speaking from his heart. The Prime Minister has rightly made a decision to continue in his position as the law allows him, to fight for justice and democratic rule in the State of Israel. I have faith in the prime minister's innocence."
Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin said he is "strengthening the prime minister at this difficult time. His contribution to the State of Israel, its security and its economy is immense, and he does not deserve the trial ‘the State of Israel against Binyamin Netanyahu.’”
“Along with about half the citizens of the country, I supported and support him, and would like to remind everyone of the presumption of innocence. I hope justice will be served and the prime minister will prove his innocence in court," Elkin said.