Accusations against netanyahu: his last show?

The Israeli head of government is coming under increasing pressure. He calls the corruption investigations against him a "smear campaign."

During his visit to Washington, Prime Minister Netanyahu is calm Photo: ap

He let himself be celebrated with ovations, he waved statesmanlike to the cheering crowd. During his speech to the pro-Israel lobbying association Aipac in Washington on Tuesday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed completely in his element. Back home in Israel, however, observers speculate it could have been his last big show.

Corruption investigations in his entourage are picking up steam. In two recent cases, police recommended that Netanyahu be indicted. And earlier this week, it was announced that the prime minister’s former media adviser, Nir Hefetz, will testify as a state witness in the so-called Cases 1,000 and 4,000.

In Case 1,000, Netanyahu is accused of accepting expensive gifts from businessmen in return for favors. In Case 4.000, he is suspected of having legislatively favored the telecom company Bezeq as communications minister in order to influence the reporting of the Bezeq news site Walla!

Netanyahu strongly denies all accusations, accusing in return the police and media of an unprecedented smear campaign against his person. On Wednesday, he posted video of a speech on Facebook in which he accuses investigators of putting pressure on key witnesses. "It doesn’t matter if you tell delusional lies, the main thing is to smear (the reputation of) Netanyahu," he says in it.

A possible successor has already been found

Whether he is actually indicted is up to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to decide, which could take months. Meanwhile, even political allies are publicly casting doubt on Netanyahu’s political survival. Education Minister Naftali Bennett, chairman of the HaBayit HaYehudi party, hinted Thursday that his party could leave the coalition if the prime minister is impeached.

He also floated himself as his successor: "It is not my intention to oust Netanyahu," Bennett told an Israeli radio station, "but should he step down from the stage, I plan to run for prime minister."

Further political uncertainty is caused by the dispute between the ruling parties over the military service of ultra-Orthodox men. The ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party wants to largely suspend military service for its clientele, as it has in the past. In contrast, both the finance and defense ministers are threatening to blow up the coalition if the strict believers get their way. Observers are already speculating about new elections. But Netanyahu has ousted potential rivals in good time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *