Netanyahu claims he won’t seek to evade graft trial if he forms new government

Prime Minister Netanyahu denies he is fueling divisions in Israeli society, as he is asked about past comments on Arabs, the left and other divisive rhetoric.

“I am the prime minister of everyone. I bring vaccines to all Israelis, without exception. I bring peace agreements to all Israelis, without exception. I bring economic assistance to all Israelis, without exception. I protect the security, better this year than ever, of all Israelis, without exception…. And I stop the Iranian nuclear armament for all Israelis, without exception,” he says in an interview with Channel 13 news.

He also dismisses the poll finding that 58% of Israelis don’t want him to continue as prime minister. “Wait for the real survey,” he responds, referring to the upcoming elections.

The interviewer notes: We are the country that has lost the most school days to COVID. Was it a mistake to reopen commerce before schools?: “I prioritized life above all else,” says Netanyahu. The health experts advised against opening schools fully, since this would rapidly spread contagion, with fatal consequences, he says.

Asked about telephoning Arnon Milchen, who is a prosecution witness in Netanyahu’s trial on graft charges, the premier says he doesn’t remember when he phoned him, but that “it’s all spin by the prosecution to obscure the fact that the cases against me are collapsing.

“It is permitted to talk to a prosecution witness,” he adds, dismissing the cases against him as “fabricated.”

Netayanu says that if he forms a government after the March 23 elections, he won’t use it to evade the trial through legislation or a request for immunity.

“I won’t advance any such legislation,” he says.

He is also asked if his acceptance of expensive gifts showed he has a “values” problem.

“I’ll tell you about my values. I dedicate my life, despite the endless false attacks on me, my wife and my children… to public service,” he says.

Asked why he took all those gifts from Milchan, and asked “don’t you have a ‘values’ problem, he says: “I’ll tell you about my values. I dedicate my life, despite the endless false attacks on me, my wife and my children… to public service.”

Noting it’s Purim, Netanyahu says that “2,500 years ago, a Persian oppressor arose to try to wipe out the Jewish people, and didn’t succeed…. My commitment is that today’s oppressors, these ayatollahs in Persia, who think they will destroy the Jewish state, my commitment is to again prevent their success.”

Pressed again about the gifts, he starts singing, in protest, he says, at interviewer Udi Segal’s combative questions.

Segal says he’s being contemptuous. Responds Netanyahu: “But you’re trying to deflect the conversation from the things that matter.”