Netanyahu set on 1 July annexation date
All the Israeli media continues to report on the first day of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial. Most of the papers focus on the controversial speech that Netanyahu gave on the steps of Jerusalem District Court before the trial began, in which he claimed that his prosecution was a conspiracy to overthrow the right-wing government. Ravit Hecht in Haaretz writes that whilst Netanyahu is right to argue his innocence, that right “is completely different from a shocking attack on your investigators and prosecutors. Netanyahu has tried to intimidate public servants and has combed their pasts for skeletons in order to launch character assassination.”
Nahum Barnea writes in Yedioth Ahronoth that the support Netanyahu received from outside the courthouse from Likud MKs and supporters resembles a cult. “Israel has known periods of personality cults before. Ben Gurion enjoyed this kind of adulation in the state’s early years; Begin enjoyed it among his public. Netanyahu was able to intensify the cult and to broaden it. He was able to dismantle the rage, frustration and social alienation and to reassemble it around himself.”
Ma’ariv leads with quotes from members of the opposition who condemned Netanyahu for his attacks on the law enforcement system. Opposition leader Yair Lapid said yesterday at the beginning of the Yesh Atid-Telem faction meeting: “Netanyahu led an attempted coup. He tried to harm the police, the State Attorney’s Office, the courts, the media and to threaten his judges. The Netanyahu trial began with unbridled incitement against the rule of law. From the moment that he dragged his ministers to the courthouse, from the moment that he openly incited his followers, from the moment that he tried to lead us to civil war — he must not continue to serve in his capacity.” Lapid went on to criticise Netanyahu’s partners in government, Blue and White, saying: “A week ago, when they joined the government, they said, ‘We won’t accept attacks on the rule of law.’ An attack is being made on the rule of law. A terrible, violent, frontal attack. What do you intend to do about it? Is there any principle at all that you’re willing to fight for?”
Times of Israel’s David Horovitz tells readers that the imprisonment of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “exposes the emptiness at the heart of Netanyahu’s inflammatory allegation that a leftist establishment is engaged in an attempted political coup”. He continues: “In fact, it was the police and the prosecution that tenaciously brought down his leftist predecessor, a prime minister who had played a central role in uprooting Gaza’s settlements, and who, far more dramatically, was ready to uproot most of those in the West Bank as well.”
Yedioth Ahronoth reports that the Hong-Kong based Hutchinson has lost its bid to build Israel’s largest desalination plant. Despite being favoured to win the tender, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Energy said this morning that the Israeli company IDE has received the tender for the construction of the “Shurak 2” desalination plant, which offered the lowest price. The decision comes two weeks after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced his concerns about Israel’s continued cooperation with China, which he said might be “dangerous” in light of the current coronavirus outbreak and could undermine the relations with its “strategic partners”.