Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev dismissed Monday the growing number of state witnesses against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that unlike the media, she's not thrilled over every state's witness deal, as she does not "hang everyone in the city square," ignoring presumption of innocence.
Speaking on the recent state's witness agreement signed by Netanyahu's former media adviser, Nir Hefetz, Regev urged the public to let the police "do their job" and refrain from jumping to conclusions.
"I do want to allow every person under investigation the presumption of innocence and to allow him to have a clean and fair legal proceeding. This means we need to wait for the end of the investigation," she said at the Sderot Conference for Society.
"I suggest that everyone stop taking half-leaks and half-statements and turning them into facts. Anyone suspected of one or any number of affairs should be allowed to defend himself," added Regev, who is a member of Netanyahu's ruling Likud party.
She also cast doubt over the possibility for early elections due to the recent rift in the coalition over the draft law, saying she "doesn't see it as a possibility at the moment," though reiterating that "the only party that has no reason to fear elections is Likud."
"We are only getting stronger in the polls as you see," she noted, adding that, contrary to what people may say, Netayahu plans to resolve the crisis with the Haredi parties "early next week," after he returns from Washington.
On Saturday, Regev compared Israel's gatekeepers, the heads of the state's security and judicial authorities, to Bigthan and Teresh from the Book of Esther, two eunuchs in service of the Persian king Ahasuerus (believed to be Xerxes I), whom Mordecai heard plotting to kill the king. Mordecai informed the king through Esther of the plot, and the two were hung in punishment.
"We are chosen by the people, but there are advisors and officials who are used to deciding what is right and not right, they are called the gatekeepers," she said.
"In the Book of Esther there were also gatekeepers, Bigthan and Teresh, a perfect match. They look stately, maintain the rule of law, ensured there was proper conduct, but it turned out that the moment they didn’t identify with the king and didn’t agree with his management of the kingdom, all that disappeared, their stateliness disappeared as if it never existed, the rule of law became less critical."
But Regev rejected criticism on Sunday morning, insisting that her words had been "twisted."
"Indeed, I used motifs from the Megila (Book of Esther). In light of the recent cases of improper conduct between the judge and the investigator, I stood up for the fundamental tenet of democracy—that the people are the sovereign and for the need for gatekeepers to conduct themselves democratically and in accordance with the rules of proper administration."