Netanyahu’s Grip On Power

The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, has faced increasingly strong opposition and pressure relating to his two ongoing cases of corruption that are currently being investigated by Israeli police. Suspected of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in two different cases known respectively as case 1000 and case 2000, Netanyahu now seeks to save himself by changing the laws.

In case 1000, Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan was reportedly asked to purchase luxury items for Netanyahu, and his wife, Sara, in exchange for favours. In case 2000, Netanyahu tried to conceive a deal with Arnon Mozes, a publisher of a mass-circulation daily newspaper named the Yedioth Ahronoth, which is generally critical of the Prime Minister, in exchange for more favourable coverage.

Both of these cases have at their foundation Netanyahu’s own former chief of staff and top aide, Ari Harow, which in recent months has been progressively working with the police and the Attorney General Avichai Mandelbit to become a state witness. Harow himself is suspected with bribery, fraud, breach of trust, aggravated fraud and money laundering; charges he hopes will be lessened or be granted immunity for in exchange for evidence on cases 1000 and 2000, which reportedly include phone recordings between Netanyahu and Mozes, taken by Harow.

Netanyahu has vigorously denied the allegations and questioned Harow’s credibility as a state witness, claiming that nothing will come out of the investigation because there was nothing ever there to start with. However, the Prime Minister’s government and his slim majority coalition in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, has passed the first reading of a bill known as the “recommendations law,” in which the Attorney General would have new powers, taking the police’s recommendations over an indictment into consideration, but allowing the recommendation to not be made public, thus saving Netanyahu from bad exposure. This is highly important for Netanyahu because he is not required to stand down as PM if he is indicted, but it will significantly harm his chances of re-election in the next legislative elections, slated to be held on November 5th, 2019.

The bill still requires being passed by two more votes, and Netanyahu’s party, Likud, claims that the law can be applied retroactively, putting Netanyahu’s fate in the hands of his dependable Attorney General.

Throughout his tenures as Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu has been no stranger to allegations of corruptions and has had multiple investigations opened against him. Having first served as Prime Minister from 1996 until 1999, Netanyahu had to face allegations related to the Bar-on affair, whereby he was accused of appointing and pressuring an Attorney General, Roni Bar-on, to give a plea deal to a political ally, Aryeh Deri.

His wife, Sara Netanyahu, has also been in the spotlight over the course of the last year for spending state funds on patio furniture, gourmet dinners with private chefs, and a carer for her father. In June, the Attorney general closed three cases of fraud that were opened against her. For all cases relating to Netanyahu and his wife, whether in his first tenure as PM from 1996 to 1999, or current tenure that he has had since 2009, he has hired a high-profile top defence attorney, Jacob Weinroth, who is known as being a “specialist in white-collar crimes.”

The Prime Minister currently has a slim 7-seat majority in his coalition government. With allegations against both him and his wife still in the public mind, a state witness working with prosecutors, memories of an old Bar-on affair resurfacing and two separate scandals that are known as the Submarine and Sabbath scandals threatening his rapport with the Ultra-Orthodox members of Knesset in his coalition, which hold 13 seats collectively, Netanyahu is facing scrutiny on all sides and his grip on power may be loosening before the next elections.