Footage emerged Wednesday of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promising not to advance a peace proposal with the Palestinians on the eve of Knesset elections, a year before he did exactly that this week.
The December 2018 footage from Channel 12 — posted to Twitter — featured a journalist invoking a famous 2008 comment by Netanyahu, who was opposition leader at the time, about then-prime minister Ehud Olmert. Netanyahu had said that a prime minister “neck-deep in investigations has no moral or public mandate to make fateful decisions for Israel.”
Olmert resigned well before his indictment, was then convicted of bribery, and served years in prison. Netanyahu now also stands accused of corruption offenses, with an indictment having been formally filed Tuesday at the Jerusalem District Court.
The journalist in the 2018 footage asked Netanyahu whether there was a difference between 2008’s Olmert and 2018’s Netanyahu, who was also “neck-deep in investigations.”
Netanyahu responded that his comment about Olmert “referred to a diplomatic plan or diplomatic steps that Olmert intended to introduce on the eve of the elections, something that in my eyes was unacceptable. You cannot bring a diplomatic plan on the eve of the elections without receiving a mandate for it, and that is what I was talking about.
“I am of the same opinion,” Netanyahu added. “I don’t intend to bring a diplomatic plan on the eve of the elections.”
But on Tuesday, some 13 months later, the prime minister proudly stood alongside US President Donald Trump in the White House as the latter unveiled a detailed diplomatic plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Trump said Netanyahu had signaled his approval of the plan. The prime minister subsequently gave a briefing to journalists announcing his intention to advance the annexation of the Jordan Valley and West Bank settlements as early as Sunday — a month before the March 2 Knesset elections.
Netanyahu denies wrongdoing in all three cases against him, alleging a wide-reaching conspiracy against him by the left, the media, police, prosecutors and the attorney general.
In Case 1000, involving accusations that Netanyahu received gifts and benefits from billionaire benefactors including Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan in exchange for favors, the premier is charged with fraud and breach of trust.
In Case 2000, involving accusations Netanyahu agreed with Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes to weaken a rival daily in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth, the premier is charged with fraud and breach of trust, while Mozes has been charged with bribery.
In Case 4000, widely seen as the most serious, Netanyahu is accused of having advanced regulatory decisions that benefited Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in the Bezeq telecom giant, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, in exchange for positive coverage from the Elovitch-owned Walla news site.