Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu granted on Feb. 18 an interview to the Israeli Arabic-language Panet website, for the first time in the current election campaign. Apparently, Netanyahu is even going after the potential Arab vote, assessing that this constituency could provide him with the crucial Knesset seat he needs to make his dream of a 61-seat majority come true and leave him in power.
On that same day, the Justice Ministry announced the date set for Netanyahu’s corruption trial — March 17, two weeks and a day after the March 2 elections. Publication of the date and of the identities of the three judges who will preside over the tribunal brought home the fact that the prime minister accused of bribery was really going on trial, and this was no longer just a vague future calendar event. Blue and White leader Benny Gantz was quick to issue a statement, describing the “Netanyahu trial” as a sad day for the State of Israel. Netanyahu was quick to respond, challenging Gantz to a televised debate. Gantz tweeted back that Netanyahu’s challenge was nothing but a spin designed to sideline his looming trial, an insight which was obviously true. From now until election day, Netanyahu will use every trick in the book to set an alternative agenda to his trial.