State attorney ‘shocked’ by personal attacks by Netanyahu, Ohana
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State attorney ‘shocked’ by personal attacks by Netanyahu, Ohana

Shai Nitzan accuses PM, justice minister of seeking to erode public trust in law enforcement, after criminal charges announced against premier

State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan speaks at the annual Justice Conference in Airport City, outside Tel Aviv on September 3, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan speaks at the annual Justice Conference in Airport City, outside Tel Aviv on September 3, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

State Attorney Shai Nitzan blasted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Amir Ohana on Tuesday, decrying a campaign allegedly aimed at eroding public trust in his office, after criminal charges were announced against the premier.

“I have to say I was shocked to hear his public attacks on the prosecution,” Nitzan said of Ohana in a closed discussion in Eilat, on the sidelines of a legal conference, in footage obtained by Channel 13. “He made blunt and grave remarks about the prosecution.”

“There is a campaign with the sole purpose of driving public distrust in the State Prosecutor’s Office. And after they hammer [that message] every day, they say, ‘Here, look, public trust is down.’ Of course it’s down. There are huge forces doing whatever they can to harm the public trust.”

After Attorney General Mandelblit announced indictments against Netanyahu last Thursday, the prime minister denounced the charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust as a “coup” while Likud’s Ohana attacked the state prosecution, for which he is responsible, saying that it acts unprofessionally and without oversight.

Supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rally in Tel Aviv in support of his claim that prosecutors set to indict him on corruption charges were carrying out a ‘coup,’ November 26, 2019. (Jack Guez/AFP)

“There are prosecutors breaking the law and nobody checks them,” he said. “I call on the state comptroller to look into this and examine these accusations.”

Nitzan — along with Mandelblit and Liat Ben-Ari, the lead prosecutor in the cases against Netanyahu — have all been receiving additional police protection over the past year due to threats from supporters of the prime minister.

Also on Tuesday, Mandelblit condemned “threats,” “lies” and “baseless slander” directed against law enforcement, in a thinly veiled rebuke of Netanyahu and his supporters.

“The dignified approach we take is not always embraced by others,” Mandelblit said, hours before thousands attended a Likud rally in Tel Aviv, under the banner “Stopping the coup.”

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit (L) and Justice Minister Amir Ohana attend the annual Justice conference in Airport City, outside Tel Aviv on September 3, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

“I am hearing expressions that don’t have a place in public discourse that are directed at the law enforcement system, and certain senior officials inside it. I am hearing threats. I am hearing lies. I am hearing baseless slander. That is simply shocking,” the attorney general said at the same Eilat conference at which Nitzan made his comments.

Following last week’s announcement, Netanyahu claimed that the investigations into his alleged misconduct had been tainted by various improprieties and accused law enforcement authorities of “selective enforcement” against him. He demanded to “investigate the investigators.”

“I deeply respect the justice system in Israel. But you have to be blind not to see that something bad is happening to police investigators and the prosecution. We’re seeing an attempted coup by the police with false accusations” against him, Netanyahu charged.

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