Netanyahu Gets Personal as Indictment Decision Looms

(Bloomberg) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ratcheted up his campaign to discredit Israeli journalists and his left-wing opponents, disparaging them on billboards and social media as a decision on his possible indictment nears.

“They don’t decide. You do,” said a billboard at a major highway junction near Tel Aviv that carried photographs of four prominent journalists covering the multiple corruption cases against the prime minister. “Netanyahu’s your man,” added the billboard, which was also posted on the premier’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

In a video clip posted on Facebook and Twitter, the Israeli leader accused the left and the media of pressuring Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit to indict him “at any price.” “Will they succeed?” it asks.

Netanyahu has long contended that he is an innocent being victimized by the left and the media, but the campaign against his critics is heating up amid reports that Mandelbilt will decide next month whether to notify the prime minister that he is considering charges against him. With April 9 parliamentary elections approaching, Netanyahu could have much to lose, though polls currently show his Likud party easily defeating its various challengers to put him in place for a fifth term.

Making Targets

Netanyahu opponents decried the new campaign, with Labor leader Avi Gabbay tweeting, “In a well-ordered country, a prime minister doesn’t attack his attorney general, or make him and journalists targets.”

Police have recommended charges against Netanyahu for allegedly accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from a Hollywood producer. They also say he pushed regulatory changes and offered to amend the law to favor Israeli media moguls in exchange for sympathetic coverage. Israeli media have reported that prosecutors agree he should be indicted.

Netanyahu, who contends his enemies have cooked up lies about him because they can’t unseat him at the ballot box, has said he won’t resign even if Mandelblit discloses he’s considering charges before the election. Under Israeli law, he would not have to step down unless convicted.

Netanyahu’s posts followed a report on Mandelblit’s handling of the cases against the prime minister on Channel 12. The report included footage of the attorney general telling the reporter several times that he would be influenced only by the truth and was ignoring all the “noise” around the case.

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