In the midst of the global media frenzy surrounding US President Donald Trump’s revelation of his peace plan, a key piece of news got swept up in the mix: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was officially indicted on charges of corruption.
The move came after Netanyahu decided to drop his last-ditch effort to avoid prosecution by requesting parliamentary immunity.
Netanyahu said he was pulling his request, which was scheduled to take place on Tuesday, because he felt he would not have been given a fair trial anyway, calling it “the immunity circus” in a post on Facebook Tuesday morning.
“Since I was not given due process, because all the rules of Knesset work were trampled on, and since the results of the procedure were pre-dictated without proper discussion, I decided not to let this dirty game continue,” he said.
“I will not allow my political opponents to use this matter to interfere with the historic move I am leading,” Netanyahu said, referring to his collaboration with Trump on the peace plan.
Following Netanyahu’s announcement that he was no longer seeking parliamentary immunity, Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit filed a 78-page indictment to the Jerusalem District Court, paving the way for a court date to be set for Netanyahu.
Netanyahu’s political rivals, including Benny Gantz, who said “no one can run a state and at the same time manage three serious criminal cases for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.”
But the news of the indictment, which marked the first time a sitting Israeli prime minister has been indicted on criminal charges, was quickly swept aside as Trump unveiled the details of his peace plan, with a smiling Netanyahu at his side.
While Trump implored Palestinians in his speech to adhere to international standards against financial and political corruption, he made no mention of the bribery, corruption, and fraud charges brought against Netanyahu just hours before.
As reactions to Trump’s proposal poured in from around the world, many critics pointed to Netanyahu’s indictment and the ongoing impeachment hearings against Trump as reason to cast doubt on the pair’s political agenda.
This political stunt gets us no closer to peace or justice. As a member of Congress, I consider it a non-starter. https://t.co/PIYYZ75PWc
— Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (@RepRashida) January 28, 2020
Palestinians and their supporters have accused Trump and Netanyahu of putting on a political stunt to distract from the problems plaguing each of their careers at the cost of the Palestinian people.
Much like Netanyahu facing indictment or Trump facing impeachment, Zionism is living on borrowed time. Trump's plan is an effort to turn back the dial but the clock keeps ticking and its only ticking louder.
— (((YousefMunayyer))) (@YousefMunayyer) January 29, 2020
In Ramallah, Palestinian protesters told Mondoweiss on Tuesday night that they were outraged by the “show” put on by Trump and Netanyahu, without regard for the desires of the Palestinian people.
“This is clearly a distraction, a kind of smoke show, to distract from their problems,” Elaal Jaber, 20, said. “Trump and Nentanyahu are both criminals, and we are supposed to accept their plans for us?”
“The right of return is not included, Jerusalem is carved up, and we won’t have control of our borders,” Jaber continued. “There’s no way any Palestinian would agree to any of this.”