Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out Thursday after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit called for him to be indicted on multiple corruption charges, accusing the country's most senior judicial and law enforcement officials of being part of a witch hunt designed to bring him down.
In an appearance on national television, shortly after Mandelblit's recommendations were released, Netanyahu called the timing of the announcement, six weeks ahead of elections, "outrageous" and accused his political opponents of carrying out an "unprecedented witch hunt."
"The pressure of the left worked," Netanyahu said, saying the attorney general's recommendations threatened the country's democracy.
He called the accusations lies and a "blood libel" and said he would debunk all charges against him.
"There is nothing, because there was nothing," Netanyahu said, invoking a mantra he frequently uses to proclaim his innocence.
Mandelblit, who was once Netanyahu's cabinet secretary, recommended bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges in Case 4000, in which Netanyahu is suspected of receiving favorable coverage on the Walla! News website in return for regulatory benefits to telecommunications giant Bezeq, which owns the site.
The attorney general also called for charges of fraud and breach of trust in both Case 1000, in which Netanyahu and his family are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from wealthy donors, and Case 2000, in which Netanyahu allegedly tried to negotiate favorable coverage in the Yedioth Ahronoth daily (Ynetnews' sister publication) in return for promoting legislation against rival paper Israel Hayom.
"For three years they have been engaged in political persecution against us, an unprecedented witch hunt with the sole purpose of overthrowing the right-wing government under my leadership and bringing (Yair) Lapid and (Benny) Gantz's left-wing party to power," said Netanyahu, referring to the leaders of the party that poses the greatest threat to his political survival on April 9.
"They exerted constant, inhumane pressure on the attorney general to say that he was considering filing an indictment against me, subject to a hearing, even when it was clear that there is nothing (there).
"The main thing is to influence the elections, even when we know that this house of cards will collapse completely afterwards. And given that the attorney general is only flesh and blood, the pressure of the left worked. Today happened something of the utmost seriousness to harm Israeli democracy," he said.
"Every citizen understands that the timing is scandalous and is meant to topple the right from power and bring in the left. There is no other explanation for the insistence on this timing, so close to the elections. And this is their goal - to inundate the public with ridiculous and vicious plots against me, so that I will not have the opportunity to refute these claims now, but rather only after the elections. But be in no doubt - I will refute them all, from start to finish.