Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, responding to the first day of testimony against him in his corruption trial, rails against the prosecution, accusing it of “hypocrisy” and conducting a “witch hunt” against him.
He specifically derides lead prosecutor Liat Ben-Ari’s charge, in her opening arguments, that the prime minister abused his powers.
“What hypocrisy. The entire conduct against me is heavy-handed improper use of the powers of… the prosecution,” Netanyahu says in a televised statement.
“The prosecution opened the investigations against the prime minister against the law,” says Netanyahu, referring to the attorney general’s apparent failure to approve the probe in writing.
“It’s a witch hunt. They didn’t investigate a crime, they didn’t look for a crime; they hunted for a man, they hunted me.”
He says investigators ignored testimony that didn’t match their thesis, leaked material, and extorted witnesses.
“This is how they try to overthrow a powerful prime minister from the right. This is what an attempt at a coup looks like,” says the prime minister. “What is happening is an effort to trample democracy, over and over again. They are attempting to annul the will of the electorate.”
He says he hopes the trial will be conducted differently from the investigation.