MK Miki Zohar of the ruling Likud party on Monday called the police investigations into alleged corruption offenses committed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “political murder,” comparing the probes to the 1995 assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
“Yes, I am comparing Rabin’s murder to what’s being done to the prime minister,” Zohar told his stunned interviewer on Radio Haifa. “We are witnessing a political murder which involves political persecution. I think what happened in 1995 is as grave as what’s happening today.”
On November 4, 1995, Rabin was shot three times at point blank range by far-right extremist Yigal Amir at the end of a political rally for peace in Tel Aviv, in a murder that left a stain on Israeli society for decades.
Zohar claimed that the current police investigations, in which police last week recommended that Netanyahu be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, were the equivalent of the Rabin assassination in that both acts aimed to unseat a prime minister without benefit of elections.
“With Rabin, a terrible murderer came and removed him from office by taking his life, in a non-democratic way, in a despicable way, which landed him in prison for life,” the lawmaker said.
“With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, apart from taking his life, everything is being done to remove him from office, and therefore it’s no less grave in my eyes. That is what they can do to say, ‘Here, we managed to remove him from office.'”
The opposition Zionist Union party slammed Zohar for making the comparison, calling it a “complete moral breakdown.”
“Miki Zohar is an embarrassment for Likud, an embarrassment for the Knesset and an embarrassment for the country,” the party said in a statement, calling for Netanyahu’s party to “reject his remarks and condemn them immediately and fully.”
“We will never forget or forgive those who… led the wild campaign of incitement that fueled the murderer of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin,” the party added.
Last week, police recommended indicting Netanyahu in two separate graft probes, known as Cases 1000 and 2000, saying it had amassed evidence for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust by Netanyahu.
On Sunday, police reportedly named Netanyahu a suspect in a third case, dubbed Case 4000, which allegedly involves a deal for favorable coverage for the prime minister in the Walla news website in exchange for benefits given to telecom giant Bezeq.
“The police are biased and not objective,” claimed Zohar, alleging that Yoav Segalovich, a former commander of the Israel Police Investigations Division who in 2016 joined opposition party Yesh Atid, was behind the investigations involving Netanyahu.
“I have a conspiracy theory that says Segalovich, a veteran of [police anti-fraud unit] Lahav 433 who is friends with the investigators, worked with them and commanded them, is colluding with [Yesh Atid chairman] Yair Lapid to overthrow Netanyahu in a non-democratic way,” Zohar said.
Zohar commended the police for doing a “wonderful job” enforcing the law in Israel, but claimed they “lose it completely” when investigating public figures. “They arrest people and then release them, and try to push for indictments just to make headlines.”
In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife are alleged to have received illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, most notably the Israel-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, totaling NIS 1 million ($282,000). In return, Netanyahu is alleged by police to have intervened on Milchan’s behalf in matters relating to legislation, business dealings, and visa arrangements.
Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid-pro-quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.
The prime minister has also been linked indirectly to Case 3000, a large investigation into suspected corruption surrounding the multi-billion shekel purchase of naval vessels and submarines from a German shipbuilder. While Netanyahu has not been named as a suspect, close associates of his, including his personal aides, have been arrested or questioned.
Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing in the various cases.