Defense Minister Benny Gantz responds to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appearance in court in his corruption trial, calling it a “sad” but “important” day.
“This is a hard and sad day for Israel and every citizen has a lump in the throat, but also an important day in which every person understands that no one is immune from the law,” Gantz says in a video message posted to social media.
“We are all equal before the law, including you, prime minister,” says Gantz.
“For long months the justice system has been under unprecedented attack,” he says, referring to accusations by Netanyahu and his supporters that the cases against the prime minister are unfounded and a politically motivated attempt to drive him from office.
Gantz accuses Likud of trying to harm the justice system through legislation, incitement, and in the media. “That is something that threatened Israeli democracy,” Gantz says.
Gideon Sa’ar, a former Likud lawmaker who in December left to set up his own New Hope party to directly challenge Netanyahu in the coming March elections, called for politics to be kept out of the trial proceedings.
“This is a hard day for all of us and a hard day for Israel,” says Sa’ar, speaking to reporters during a campaign tour in the city of Raanana. “This is a matter that politicians from all sides should not become involved in.”
“The judicial procedure must be allowed to be carried out without any kind of political pressure,” says Sa’ar, who at the time he left Likud accused Netanyahu of bending the party to his personal needs, including regarding the criminal cases against him.