Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Israeli police over the weekend urged that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sarah, be indicted for corruption. The decision lies with attorney general Avichai Mandelblit.
The Israeli police and justice system have shown a willingness to punish corruption in high places. Former prime minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced to 27 months in 2014, but was released early.
According to BBC Monitoring, the police issued a statement saying,
- “Between the years 2012 and 2017 the prime minister and his aides intervened blatantly and continuously, and sometimes even daily, in the content published by the Walla news website. The intervention of the prime minister and his aides in the content and appointments [of editors and reporters] at the Walla website was meant to advance his personal interests, through publication of flattering articles and photos, removal of content critical of the prime minister and his family members, and so on.”
The case concerns the giant media company, Bezeq and the favors and tax breaks thrown to it by Netanyahu, who kept the Communications portfolio in his cabinet for himself.
Netanyahu had earlier been accused by the police of attempting to do a deal with the owner of Yediot Aharanot, a major mass circulation newspaper. Its sales were being hurt by a free newspaper started by Netanyahu supporter Sheldon Adelson, Yisrael Ha-yom (Israel Today). Netanyahu suggested that Adelson could reduce his print run to help out Yediot Aharanot if only the latter would run more positive stories about Netanyahu and his far right Likud Party.
In the terms of contemporary Israeli politics, Netanyahu, despite being a far-right politicians, is to the left of many persons on the cabinet. If he is indicted, there will likely be new elections, and extremist parties could come to power.
Avigdor Lieberman of the (mostly Russian) “Israel is our Home” party, recently resigned from the cabinet over Netanyahu’s unwillingness to go to war immediately against the Palestinians in Gaza.
Hence, a change in government could accelerate the Israeli dispossession of the Palestinians and result in further warfare and bloodshed.