President Reuven Rivlin expressed concern Tuesday over the deterioration of the rule of law, in an implicit jab at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent assault on law enforcement agencies.
"It seems to me, unfortunately, that respect for the rule of law has deteriorated over the years," said Rivlin as he hosted at a ceremony honoring officers from the Shin Bet security service, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem.
"The law is perceived as artificial, burdensome, restrictive and aggravating. But this is a grave misunderstanding of the importance of the law. Law enforcement is not a pleasant job. Law enforcement agencies sometimes use force against citizens of the state, not foreign enemies. Many times they face impossible situations. It is a complex and delicate task," the president said.
"The rule of law has crystallized with the understanding that we must agree on common values and laws so we can live together in peace and prosperity. The law is our identity manifested in everyday life. You, members of the domestic security establishment, are an essential feature in defending the rule of law," Rivlin added.
Netanyahu harshly criticized Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Saturday night over an interview Mandelblit gave Channel 12 television, in which he commented on the investigations against the prime minister.
"The choice to cooperate with such a program, at such timing, is unprecedented in the history of Israeli justice and raises serious questions," Netanyahu said after the comments were aired.
According to Channel 12, Mandelblit in recent months felt that the attacks from Netanyahu and his allies—which had until then been directed against the police and the prosecution—will be directed at him ahead of his decision on whether or not the indict the prime minister. "The talking points are coming directly from the top," the attorney general reportedly told associates. "The prime minister is dragging the entire country down. It's sad, and it will hurt us all."
Netanyahu has publically urged the attorney general, who previously served as his cabinet secretary, to delay any hearing on his corruption cases util after the April 9 elections, arguing that it would harm his reelection prospects.
The prime minister faces corruption charges in three cases: Case 1000, in which he and his family are suspected of receiving illicit