Archive for the ‘Benjamin Netanyahu’ Category

Netanyahu strategist Arthur Finkelstein dies at 72 – The Jerusalem Post

Political strategist Arthur Finkelstein, who worked for the Likud in several elections, as well as US Republican presidential candidates, died of lung cancer Friday at age 72.

He is survived by his husband, whom he married in 2005, and their two daughters.

A Jewish American born in New York in 1945, Finkelstein came to prominence in the 1970s, helping turn Ronald Reagan into a nationally known politician in the 1976 Republican primary, and continued to help conservative politicians get elected first in the US, and later internationally. He worked with US presidents Richard Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush, as well as with many Republican congressional and gubernatorial candidates.

Finkelstein was known for developing biting attack ads, a talent he used to help win Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the premiership for the first time in 1996. He is credited with coining the winning slogan Peres will divide Jerusalem, referring to then-prime minister Shimon Peres, after analyzing polling data and finding that Israelis would reject a deal with the Palestinians that would require the capitals division.

The strategist worked with Netanyahu again in 1999, when he lost the election to Ehud Barak; Ariel Sharons winning campaign in 2001; Likud MK Silvan Shalom in 2003; and Shaul Mofaz in the Kadima primary in 2008.

Finkelstein was behind the union between Likud and Yisrael Beytenu in 2013, an election in which they lost a quarter of their combined seats in the Knesset.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat were among his recent Israeli clients.

Liberman, for whom Finkelstein wrote the slogans Da Liberman, using the Russian word for yes, and No Citizenship Without Loyalty, said Saturday that Finkelstein was an unorthodox man with a winning personality, charm and wisdom.

Arthur was a polymath with broad knowledge in many areas, but before all else, he was a warm Jew and a great admirer of the State of Israel, Liberman said. Arthur was a great professional, whose activities around the world introduced him to presidents and prime ministers, but never changed his comfortable personality, and he was always careful to remain grounded.

The defense minister called Finkelstein a personal friend whom he will remember as one of the most interesting people he has met.

Two pollsters who worked with Finkelstein shed some light on his influence and methods.

George Birnbaum, who worked with Finkelstein for 25 years and was his business partner for more than a decade, called Finkelstein proof that one man can really change the world, pointing to the impact he had both in Israel, where he helped get Netanyahu and Sharon elected, and in the US, with Nixon and Reagan, and saying he did the same in a dozen countries.

Arthurs genius was the ability to take data and translate it into an art form. A lot of consultants are good at polls or good at ads this was something very unique about Arthur, he said.

In Israel, Finkelstein would ask, in all his polls, the question of whether people identify first as Jews or as Israelis, and would use the answers to design campaigns.

It showed in a unique way how people behave when they voted, Birnbaum recounted. Out of that came Peres will divide Jerusalem…

Bibi is good for the Jews sort of came from that.

Pollster and strategist Mitchell Barak explained people who see themselves and Jews first respond to Auschwitz, or the kind of things you hear Netanyahu say about defensible borders. People who are Israelis first want to eat Hummus in Ramallah. Since 1996, thats how you define Israelis. Barak said that, for Finkelstein, working in Israel was more than just a place of work. It was a vested interest for him. He definitely loved Israel.

Finkelsteins polling for Sharon found that the war-hero-turned-politician was one of the most beloved people in Israel, Barak recalled, but the strategist later grew concerned and felt that Sharons Gaza-disengagement plan was splitting Israel apart.

We pitched the leaders of the Yesha Council of Jewish communities of the West Bank and, then Gaza, Barak said, and they thought they knew everything, that they could go with their gut instinct and dont need pollsters. He said to them: You know what I think? The disengagement will probably happen and life will move on. Whatll you do then? He was a very brilliant man.

Barak said Finkelstein was a rock star in Israel.

Every Israeli knew who he was. In very few countries do people know political pollsters, so he was more famous here than anywhere else.

Finkelstein gave very few interviews, but a rare one given to The Jerusalem Posts sister publication Maariv in 2004, provides insight into what he may have thought about todays politics.

When you allow people to choose between the corrupt and the stupid, they will go for the corrupt, he said, which could be his answer to whether Netanyahus current legal troubles will hurt him electorally.

As for Donald Trumps defeat of Hillary Clinton in the US Presidential election, one can look at what he said of the latter in 2004: In terms of the Republicans, Hillary Clinton is a wonderful candidate for the presidency.

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Netanyahu strategist Arthur Finkelstein dies at 72 – The Jerusalem Post

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August 20, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

Why did Netanyahu wait so long to condemn anti-Semitism in Charlottesville? – Washington Post

By Gershom Gorenberg By Gershom Gorenberg August 17 at 6:29 PM

Gershom Gorenberg, an Israeli historian and journalist, is the author of The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977 and, most recently, The Unmaking of Israel.

In the drama of Charlottesville, Benjamin Netanyahu had only a small supporting role, on the near-eastern side of the stage. The way he played that role, however, was breathtaking in its audacity: For three days, the prime minister of Israel said nothing about people marching with Nazi flags in an American city, or about a terrorist attack with a car allegedly by an admirer of Hitler. As of this writing, he has not uttered a word about President Trumps infamous both sides news conference.

We Israelis are used to Netanyahu responding immediately to terrorism, perceived anti-Semitism or threats that remind him of the Holocaust. This time, the anti-Semitism was blatant, with demonstrators in Charlottesville chanting Jews will not replace us and carrying Nazi flags. Understanding the connection of those flags to genocide required no more than a third-grade Israeli education. Understanding the nature of the murder was also easy: Israelis are familiar with terrorism by speeding auto.

Yet it took Netanyahu three long days before he managed to tweet, Outraged by expressions of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism. Everyone should oppose this hatred. Even the brevity that comes with using Twitter was un-Netanyahulike. He usually prefers Facebook, which has room for lucidity that, one must recognize, is beyond the reach of Americas tweeter in chief.

Netanyahus obliviousness to the odor of anti-Semitism around Trump isnt new. In February, Netanyahu traveled to Washington to meet the new president. At a news conference, Netanyahu was asked about Trumps statement on international Holocaust Remembrance Day. That statement made no mention of Jews, erasing the Holocausts victims and the anti-Semitic ideology behind the mass murder. Netanyahus answer: This man is a great friend of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

At the time, it seemed to me that Netanyahus attitude followed a certain distorted logic: The Holocaust and Israel were inseparable, like shadow and light in the same picture. Threats to Israel were threats of a new Holocaust. Criticism of Israel, or of Netanyahus hawkish policies as Israels leader, were anti-Semitism. On the other hand, if you supported those policies, you were ipso-facto a friend of the Jews. Netanyahus inability to separate the issues was mistaken, but I was willing to believe it was sincere. His near-silence after Charlottesville convinces me that I was too kind.

Lets dispense with some possible explanations. For instance, that he thought a foreign leader shouldnt leap into a domestic American dispute. German Chancellor Angela Merkels quick denunciation, through a spokesman, of naked racism, anti-Semitism and hate in their most evil form in Charlottesville undercut that excuse.

Or perhaps Netanyahu is too involved in American domestic debates, too much the Republican from Israel, to criticize Trumps assignment of blame to both sides? No, he had cover on that front as well, after the condemnations of the presidents moral equivalency from the likes of John McCain and Mitt Romney.

If Netanyahu was concerned purely with internal Israeli politics, thered be even less reason for him to hold back. The Israeli media covered the flags, the violence and Trumps statements with horrified fascination. Condemnations from opposition politicians of the left and center were predictably harsh.

But one of the first statements came from Naftali Bennett, leader of the right-wing Jewish Home Party. The waving of Nazi flags offended Jews and dishonored American soldiers who sacrificed their lives fighting Nazism, Bennett said. He added a pointed demand that leaders of the U.S. denounce anti-Semitism. With his mumbling, Netanyahu ceded the high ground to the electoral rival who most concerns him.

So what gives? Netanyahu, it appears, is most concerned about staying on the good side of a U.S. president who is clueless about the Middle East and has made no meaningful effort to restrain Israeli actions in the occupied territories but who explodes at criticism and bears grudges. Netanyahu also understands that there is an emotional bond, a similarity of angry spirit, between the president and the torch-bearing crowd.

So the prime minister said nothing until Trump chose to recite his condemnation of racists and neo-Nazis on Monday. Then Netanyahu tweeted words calibrated to be no stronger. When Trump backtracked, Netanyahu went silent.

The man who built his rhetoric around the Holocaust is willing to speak softly about anti-Semitism and revived Nazism, and to excuse the president who has inspired the ugliness, for the sake of avoiding interference from Washington.

Here are two conclusions. First, for any U.S. Jews still trying to keep Trump and the chants in Charlottesville apart in your minds: Examine the implications of Netanyahus behavior. He deduced that criticizing the anti-Semites would offend the president.

Second, anti-Semitism is very real. We can see that. But the next time Netanyahu starts up about it, treat his talk with as much cynicism as he does.

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Why did Netanyahu wait so long to condemn anti-Semitism in Charlottesville? – Washington Post

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August 18, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

Pitiful Benjamin Netanyahu Is an Israeli Tragedy – Haaretz

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He could have been on top of the world now, but he preferred to dive headfirst into the swamp

Benjamin Netanyahu is an Israeli tragedy. The discrepancy between what he could have been and what became of him in the end is…

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Netanyahu names new head of Israel’s National Security Council – The Jerusalem Post

Meir Ben-Shabbat. (photo credit:Courtesy)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday named Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) senior official Meir Ben-Shabbat as the new head of the National Security Council, a position that had been filled only on an interim basis since Yossi Cohen left to take over the Mossad in January 2016.

Ben-Shabbat, 51, has served for 28 years in the Shin Bet, most recently as head of its southern division, which is responsible for the Gaza Strip.

In announcing the appointment at Sundays cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said Ben-Shabbat has rich experience in defending the security of Israel, in the Israel Security Agency, including his recent post as head of the southern district, and he carried out all of his duties with distinction. He is also familiar to members of the security cabinet who are already well acquainted with the clarity of his thinking. We welcome him.

In his nearly three decades in the Shin Bent, Ben-Shabbat has gained an expertise on the Gaza Strip and Hamas, and headed a number of different divisions, including cyber and the national anti-terrorism and anti-espionage divisions.

Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett, who is a member of the security cabinet, welcomed the appointment, saying Ben-Shabbat brings years of security and defense experience in various capacities and a profound understanding of Israels national security.

It is essential that the NSC be a strong organization, playing a central role in the oversight and management of our national security, Bennett said. It must also be a support system, to provide diverse diplomatic and security alternatives and to prevent a single-minded conception from taking over.

Ben-Shabat will be the 10th head of the NSC since its formation in 1999, and the first to come from the ranks of the Shin Bet.

Four of the previous heads came from the Mossad: Cohen, Ephraim Halevi, Ilan Mizrahi and Uzi Arad. Two others, Yaakov Amidror and Dani Arditi, held senior positions in military intelligence, and three of the former heads David Ivri, Uzi Dayan and Giora Eiland held senior military positions.

The National Security Council has been without a full time head since Cohens departure for the Mossad. Netanyahus choice for Cohens replacement, Avriel Bar-Yosef, never took over the post and is currently one of the main suspects in allegations of improprieties in the purchase of three German submarines.

Yaakov Nagel served as an interim replacement until April, and was instrumental in securing the $38 billion Memorandum of Understanding with the US governing its military aid to Israel over the next decade that was signed with the Obama administration. He was replaced upon his resignation by Eytan Ben-David, who has been the acting National Security Adviser since April.

The NSC has some 70 employees, and among its duties is to provide the prime minister with a summary of intelligence information that comes in from the various intelligence services, as well as to prepare the security cabinet meetings. The head of the NSC is generally one of the prime ministers chief foreign policy advisers.

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August 13, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

Poll: Bennett, Sa’ar top potential successors to Netanyahu – The Jerusalem Post

Anti-corruption demonstration near the Petah Tikva home of Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit. . (photo credit:ALON HACHMON)

Some 2,000 people participated in an anti-corruption demonstration near the Petah Tikva home of Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit on Saturday night.

This was the largest demonstration since the weekly protests began eight months ago.

Anti-corruption protest leader Eldad Yaniv credited Netanyahus high profile speech to Likud members on Wednesday for raising awareness of his demonstration.

The more Israelis feel attacked, the more they come to demonstrations, Yaniv said.

In response, coalition chairman David Bitan also held a counter-protest of some 400 people.

Meanwhile, Bayit Yehudi leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett and former minister Gideon Saar are the top choices of the Right and the general public to succeed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a poll taken for The Jerusalem Posts sister newspaper Maariv.

The Panels Research poll reported that among the general public, 38% found Saar fit to be prime minister, followed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon 32%, former defense minister Moshe Yaalon 30%, and Bennett with 26%.

Among the Right, 42% said Bennett was fit to be prime minister. Saar was deemed fit by 41%, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan by 32%, Kahlon and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked by 29%.

The poll found that Saar could win one more Knesset seat as leader of Likud than Netanyahu, taking away five seats from Yesh Atid and two from Kulanu, strengthening the Right.

With Likud led by Netanyahu, the party would win 25 seats, Yesh Atid 21, Zionist Union 16, Bayit Yehudi 12, Joint List 11, Kulanu nine, United Torah Judaism eight, Yisrael Beytenu seven, Meretz six and Shas five.

The poll of 562 respondents representing a statistical sample of the adult Israeli population has a margin of error of 4.3%.

This was the second poll which found the Likud would be stronger with Saar at its helm rather than Netanyahu. A Statnet poll broadcast last Sunday night on Channel 10 found that Netanyahu would win 27 seats while Saar would take 31.

When the Maariv poll asked respondents whether they believed Netanyahus claim that his investigations will amount to nothing because there isnt anything, 64% of Likud voters said yes, among the general public, however, only 31% agreed.

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Poll: Bennett, Sa’ar top potential successors to Netanyahu – The Jerusalem Post

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Opposition leader: Benjamin Netanyahu dividing the nation instead … – The Jerusalem Post

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu . (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Netanyahus speech to Likud members at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds was divisive when the people of Israel want unity, opposition leader Avi Gabbay told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Gabbay referred to Netanyahus repeated insults on Wednesday evening of the Left, which he equated with the media.

He didnt speak as a prime minister but like an insecure leader of a small party, Gabbay said. Instead of uniting the nation, he further divided it. The nation wants someone to unite them, and I hope we can persuade people we can do that best. We are ready for elections now.

Gabbay said he did not believe the heads of the parties in Netanyahus coalition would topple him, even if the police decide to recommend indicting him. But he said that if Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit indicts Netanyahu, the coalition parties would have to force him out.

I cant imagine a situation where he remains prime minister after an indictment, Gabbay said. I think the coalition heads would finally take action, because they wont be able to tell the public at election time that they allowed such a thing to happen.

Asked if he was upset that Netanyahus speech was broadcast on all three networks and the opposition was not given equal time, he said Netanyahu might speak against the media, but he cant really be mad at the press after it served him so well.

Former prime minister Ehud Barak also blasted the premier after Netanyahu called him in his speech The same old man with a new beard, who was briefly prime minister and not one of our successful ones.

Netanyahu made fun of Baraks warnings that Israel would be isolated due to Netanyahus polices, noting that Israel now enjoys closer relations then ever with India, China, the US and Europe.

Speaking in a video he posted on his Facebook page from abroad, Barak called Netanyahus speech a pathetic show of a cry-baby. He called upon the prime minister to resign as soon as possible.

When the testimony of the states witnesses is published, the game will be over, Barak said. Bibi is about to finish his path. If he does it respectfully, his achievements will also be remembered. If he continues to hesitate, he will crash to the depths, and that would be too bad.

The Likud responded on Facebook by saying that Barak cannot preach against corruption after he was investigated for illegally raising millions of shekels in the nonprofit organizations scandal. The Likud said that had Baraks then-cabinet secretary Isaac Herzog not remained silent during questioning, Barak would be sitting in prison today.

Barak should continue his travels between the worlds most posh hotels and not make false charges against Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has always acted according to the law for the good of the people of Israel and its security, the Likud said.

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The corruption scandals plaguing Benjamin Netanyahu and his family explained by the numbers – The Jewish Standard

He has a firm grip on the government, but a mounting political scandal might bring him down.

Officials from his own party have begun to distance themselves from him, but he remains defiant.

Oh, and his son is in trouble, too.

Just one more thing Benjamin Netanyahu has in common with President Donald Trump.

Except theres a difference: While Trump faces one sprawling scandal, the Russia affair, Israels prime minister is embroiled in at least two. Police are conducting two additional corruption investigations that involve him indirectly. His wife, Sara, probably will be indicted soon in a separate case. And a left-wing NGO just sued his son Yair.

Netanyahu appeared to be in increasing peril as of last week, when Ari Harow, his American-born former chief of staff, became a state witness. Despite it all, Netanyahu has remained confident. He has accused the Israeli media of peddling fake news about the scandals. On Monday, responding to an article predicting his ouster, Netanyahu tweeted two words: Wont happen.

But will it happen?

After winning four Israeli elections, will Netanyahu be done in by his own misdeeds? Or is it prosecutorial overreach? Heres a primer on the string of scandals and what they mean for the prime minister.

Netanyahu is under investigation for receiving gifts and taking bribes.

The two main corruption scandals involving Netanyahu both concern allegations of illicit dealings with rich and powerful men. In the first, called Case 1000, Netanyahu is accused of receiving expensive gifts from billionaires and then taking action on their behalf. In the second, called Case 2000, he is accused of striking an illicit deal with a newspaper publisher.

In Case 1000, Netanyahu is alleged to have received tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts from Arnon Milchan, an Israeli Hollywood producer, and James Packer, an Australian casino mogul. The gifts include champagne, cigars, flights, and hotel rooms.

In return, Netanyahu supposedly helped Milchan obtain a U.S. visa and Packer secure a residency permit in Israel. Netanyahu has acknowledged receiving the gifts but denies they were illegal or constituted bribes.

In Case 2000, Netanyahu is accused of conspiring with Arnon Mozes, the owner of the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot, to advance legislation hobbling the free and pro-Netanyahu tabloid Israel Hayom, which is bankrolled by American billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Yediot, which historically has criticized Netanyahu, was to cover him more favorably in return. Although recordings of the conversations exist, Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.

Hes mixed up in two other corruption scandals and his wife and son are in trouble, too.

Now you know about Cases 1000 and 2000. Heres some info on Cases 3000 and 4000, targeting Netanyahus associates, plus another scandal involving his wife and another his son.

The rundown:

Case 3000 involves alleged corruption in the sale of German submarines to Israel. Police have accused businessman Michael Ganor of bribing government officials to become the negotiating agent for ThyssenKrupp, the German company that built the subs. In addition, Netanyahus personal lawyer, David Shimron, simultaneously acted as Ganors representative during the negotiations over the sale.

In Case 4000, the director-general of Israels Communications Ministry, Shlomo Filber, is accused of illicitly allowing Bezeq, the national telephone company, to buy shares of YES, a satellite cable provider. Filber was appointed by Netanyahu, who also serves as communications minister.

Meanwhile, Sara Netanyahu is likely to be indicted for misusing public funds at the couples official residences. The Israeli first lady is accused of using government money to pay for private chefs at family events, a caregiver for her father, and weekend electrical work at the couples home in the tony coastal town of Caesarea. The allegations long have dogged Sara Netanyahu, who sometimes comes off in the Israeli media as the countrys Marie Antoinette.

Finally Molad, a leftwing Israeli think tank, has sued Yair Netanyahu for libel. Yair, 26, wrote a Facebook post last week calling the group a radical, anti-Zionist organization funded by the Fund for Israels Destruction. (That was a reference to the New Israel Fund, a left-wing NGO that is the bte noire of the Israeli right.) Earlier that day, Molad had posted a listicle criticizing Yair Netanyahus political views and use of public funds.

Netanyahu could be nearing indictment, but he might still stay in office.

So what does this all mean for the prime minister, who has governed Israel since the beginning of the Obama administration in his second go-round in the office? It depends on two factors: Whether he is indicted, and whether that creates enough pressure to force him to resign.

The fact that police now are working with Ari Harow, a confidant of the prime ministers, means that Harow may provide information leading to an indictment. The recordings of Netanyahus conversations with Mozes, for example, were found on Harows phone.

Harow served two terms as Netanyahus chief of staff, and founded a consulting company between the two stints. Police have accused him of using his government position to advance his business interests. In return for becoming a state witness, Harow agreed to a plea deal in which he will perform community service and pay a fine rather than serve prison time.

But even with Harows testimony, the going still will be slow. According to a handy explainer in Haaretz, police are not expected to issue their recommendation until after the High Holidays late next month. If police recommend an indictment, it still could take several months until the attorney general indicts Netanyahu formally. Even then, he isnt legally required to resign.

Which is why the prime ministers fate may come down to pressure from fellow politicians and the public. A poll by Israels Channel 10 found that 66 percent of Israelis believe Netanyahu should resign if he is indicted. There is intrigue within Netanyahus Likud party as well, with some ministers openly backing him while another, speaking anonymously, said he should resign if indicted.

(Un)fortunately, theres a precedent for this decision: Nine years ago, facing many corruption scandals, centrist Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resigned even before the police recommended an indictment. But stepping down didnt help him. Olmert was sentenced to prison in 2015 and served 16 months before he was released in July.

Nor did resigning help Olmerts Kadima party. His successor, Tzipi Livni, lost the subsequent election in 2009 to Benjamin Netanyahu.

JTA Wire Service

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Can Benjamin Netanyahu survive the corruption investigations swirling around him? – Telegraph.co.uk

Benjamin Netanyahu has been Israels prime minister for 11 years and is on course to become the Jewish states longest-serving leader.

The 67-year-old is a former special forces commando and he appeals to many Israelis as a strong man who can keep Israel safe in a turbulent Middle East.

He is the head of the conservative Likud party he leads a coalition government made of up several parties from the Right

But Mr Netanyahus political career is now under threat from a series of corruption investigations that have rocked his premiership.

He is fighting back, saying the investigations are a politically motivated witch hunt being carried out by the Israeli media and his opponents on the Left.

Mr Netanyahu is being investigated on suspicion of bribery and fraud in at least two cases.

The first investigation into Mr Netanyahu is known as Case 1000…

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Benjamin Netanyahu accuses ‘leftist media’ of promoting regime change in Israel – Washington Examiner

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at his country’s media for leading a campaign to oust him as he battles a series of corruption allegations.

Netanyahu on Wednesday accused the media of being on “an obsessive, unprecedented hunt against me and my family to carry out a regime change” during a rally held by Israel’s Likud party in support of the prime minister.

Hundreds of supporters packed a Tel Aviv convention center holding signs and chanting “Bibi, King of Israel,” using the prime minister’s nickname.

Netanyahu said that the “leftist” media is teaming up with the political opposition to oust him and that they hope a police investigation will topple him because he cannot be defeated at the polls.

“The left, and the media, and they’re the same thing,” Netanyahu said, according to the Associated Press.

According to Israeli media, Netanyahu is being investigated for two corruption cases involving “bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.” He has maintained no wrongdoing.

One claim is that he received gifts from wealthy backers, and the other is that he is involved in a deal to support legislating one newspaper group in return for favorable coverage from another newspaper group.

“It’s not like I am going tomorrow, and they are going to replace me,” he said. “I don’t know what they want from me. I have nothing to fear. I don’t think I have a problem,” Netanyahu reportedly told members of his Likud Party Tuesday.

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Netanyahu strategist Arthur Finkelstein dies at 72 – The Jerusalem Post

Political strategist Arthur Finkelstein, who worked for the Likud in several elections, as well as US Republican presidential candidates, died of lung cancer Friday at age 72. He is survived by his husband, whom he married in 2005, and their two daughters. A Jewish American born in New York in 1945, Finkelstein came to prominence in the 1970s, helping turn Ronald Reagan into a nationally known politician in the 1976 Republican primary, and continued to help conservative politicians get elected first in the US, and later internationally. He worked with US presidents Richard Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush, as well as with many Republican congressional and gubernatorial candidates. Finkelstein was known for developing biting attack ads, a talent he used to help win Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the premiership for the first time in 1996. He is credited with coining the winning slogan Peres will divide Jerusalem, referring to then-prime minister Shimon Peres, after analyzing polling data and finding that Israelis would reject a deal with the Palestinians that would require the capitals division. The strategist worked with Netanyahu again in 1999, when he lost the election to Ehud Barak; Ariel Sharons winning campaign in 2001; Likud MK Silvan Shalom in 2003; and Shaul Mofaz in the Kadima primary in 2008. Finkelstein was behind the union between Likud and Yisrael Beytenu in 2013, an election in which they lost a quarter of their combined seats in the Knesset. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat were among his recent Israeli clients. Liberman, for whom Finkelstein wrote the slogans Da Liberman, using the Russian word for yes, and No Citizenship Without Loyalty, said Saturday that Finkelstein was an unorthodox man with a winning personality, charm and wisdom. Arthur was a polymath with broad knowledge in many areas, but before all else, he was a warm Jew and a great admirer of the State of Israel, Liberman said. Arthur was a great professional, whose activities around the world introduced him to presidents and prime ministers, but never changed his comfortable personality, and he was always careful to remain grounded. The defense minister called Finkelstein a personal friend whom he will remember as one of the most interesting people he has met. Two pollsters who worked with Finkelstein shed some light on his influence and methods. George Birnbaum, who worked with Finkelstein for 25 years and was his business partner for more than a decade, called Finkelstein proof that one man can really change the world, pointing to the impact he had both in Israel, where he helped get Netanyahu and Sharon elected, and in the US, with Nixon and Reagan, and saying he did the same in a dozen countries. Arthurs genius was the ability to take data and translate it into an art form. A lot of consultants are good at polls or good at ads this was something very unique about Arthur, he said. In Israel, Finkelstein would ask, in all his polls, the question of whether people identify first as Jews or as Israelis, and would use the answers to design campaigns. It showed in a unique way how people behave when they voted, Birnbaum recounted. Out of that came Peres will divide Jerusalem… Bibi is good for the Jews sort of came from that. Pollster and strategist Mitchell Barak explained people who see themselves and Jews first respond to Auschwitz, or the kind of things you hear Netanyahu say about defensible borders. People who are Israelis first want to eat Hummus in Ramallah. Since 1996, thats how you define Israelis. Barak said that, for Finkelstein, working in Israel was more than just a place of work. It was a vested interest for him. He definitely loved Israel. Finkelsteins polling for Sharon found that the war-hero-turned-politician was one of the most beloved people in Israel, Barak recalled, but the strategist later grew concerned and felt that Sharons Gaza-disengagement plan was splitting Israel apart. We pitched the leaders of the Yesha Council of Jewish communities of the West Bank and, then Gaza, Barak said, and they thought they knew everything, that they could go with their gut instinct and dont need pollsters. He said to them: You know what I think? The disengagement will probably happen and life will move on. Whatll you do then? He was a very brilliant man. Barak said Finkelstein was a rock star in Israel. Every Israeli knew who he was. In very few countries do people know political pollsters, so he was more famous here than anywhere else. Finkelstein gave very few interviews, but a rare one given to The Jerusalem Posts sister publication Maariv in 2004, provides insight into what he may have thought about todays politics. When you allow people to choose between the corrupt and the stupid, they will go for the corrupt, he said, which could be his answer to whether Netanyahus current legal troubles will hurt him electorally. As for Donald Trumps defeat of Hillary Clinton in the US Presidential election, one can look at what he said of the latter in 2004: In terms of the Republicans, Hillary Clinton is a wonderful candidate for the presidency. Share on facebook

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August 20, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

Why did Netanyahu wait so long to condemn anti-Semitism in Charlottesville? – Washington Post

By Gershom Gorenberg By Gershom Gorenberg August 17 at 6:29 PM Gershom Gorenberg, an Israeli historian and journalist, is the author of The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977 and, most recently, The Unmaking of Israel. In the drama of Charlottesville, Benjamin Netanyahu had only a small supporting role, on the near-eastern side of the stage. The way he played that role, however, was breathtaking in its audacity: For three days, the prime minister of Israel said nothing about people marching with Nazi flags in an American city, or about a terrorist attack with a car allegedly by an admirer of Hitler. As of this writing, he has not uttered a word about President Trumps infamous both sides news conference. We Israelis are used to Netanyahu responding immediately to terrorism, perceived anti-Semitism or threats that remind him of the Holocaust. This time, the anti-Semitism was blatant, with demonstrators in Charlottesville chanting Jews will not replace us and carrying Nazi flags. Understanding the connection of those flags to genocide required no more than a third-grade Israeli education. Understanding the nature of the murder was also easy: Israelis are familiar with terrorism by speeding auto. Yet it took Netanyahu three long days before he managed to tweet, Outraged by expressions of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism. Everyone should oppose this hatred. Even the brevity that comes with using Twitter was un-Netanyahulike. He usually prefers Facebook, which has room for lucidity that, one must recognize, is beyond the reach of Americas tweeter in chief. Netanyahus obliviousness to the odor of anti-Semitism around Trump isnt new. In February, Netanyahu traveled to Washington to meet the new president. At a news conference, Netanyahu was asked about Trumps statement on international Holocaust Remembrance Day. That statement made no mention of Jews, erasing the Holocausts victims and the anti-Semitic ideology behind the mass murder. Netanyahus answer: This man is a great friend of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. At the time, it seemed to me that Netanyahus attitude followed a certain distorted logic: The Holocaust and Israel were inseparable, like shadow and light in the same picture. Threats to Israel were threats of a new Holocaust. Criticism of Israel, or of Netanyahus hawkish policies as Israels leader, were anti-Semitism. On the other hand, if you supported those policies, you were ipso-facto a friend of the Jews. Netanyahus inability to separate the issues was mistaken, but I was willing to believe it was sincere. His near-silence after Charlottesville convinces me that I was too kind. Lets dispense with some possible explanations. For instance, that he thought a foreign leader shouldnt leap into a domestic American dispute. German Chancellor Angela Merkels quick denunciation, through a spokesman, of naked racism, anti-Semitism and hate in their most evil form in Charlottesville undercut that excuse. Or perhaps Netanyahu is too involved in American domestic debates, too much the Republican from Israel, to criticize Trumps assignment of blame to both sides? No, he had cover on that front as well, after the condemnations of the presidents moral equivalency from the likes of John McCain and Mitt Romney. If Netanyahu was concerned purely with internal Israeli politics, thered be even less reason for him to hold back. The Israeli media covered the flags, the violence and Trumps statements with horrified fascination. Condemnations from opposition politicians of the left and center were predictably harsh. But one of the first statements came from Naftali Bennett, leader of the right-wing Jewish Home Party. The waving of Nazi flags offended Jews and dishonored American soldiers who sacrificed their lives fighting Nazism, Bennett said. He added a pointed demand that leaders of the U.S. denounce anti-Semitism. With his mumbling, Netanyahu ceded the high ground to the electoral rival who most concerns him. So what gives? Netanyahu, it appears, is most concerned about staying on the good side of a U.S. president who is clueless about the Middle East and has made no meaningful effort to restrain Israeli actions in the occupied territories but who explodes at criticism and bears grudges. Netanyahu also understands that there is an emotional bond, a similarity of angry spirit, between the president and the torch-bearing crowd. So the prime minister said nothing until Trump chose to recite his condemnation of racists and neo-Nazis on Monday. Then Netanyahu tweeted words calibrated to be no stronger. When Trump backtracked, Netanyahu went silent. The man who built his rhetoric around the Holocaust is willing to speak softly about anti-Semitism and revived Nazism, and to excuse the president who has inspired the ugliness, for the sake of avoiding interference from Washington. Here are two conclusions. First, for any U.S. Jews still trying to keep Trump and the chants in Charlottesville apart in your minds: Examine the implications of Netanyahus behavior. He deduced that criticizing the anti-Semites would offend the president. Second, anti-Semitism is very real. We can see that. But the next time Netanyahu starts up about it, treat his talk with as much cynicism as he does.

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August 18, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

Pitiful Benjamin Netanyahu Is an Israeli Tragedy – Haaretz

Home > Opinion He could have been on top of the world now, but he preferred to dive headfirst into the swamp Benjamin Netanyahu is an Israeli tragedy. The discrepancy between what he could have been and what became of him in the end is… Want to enjoy ‘Zen’ reading – with no ads and just the article? Subscribe today We’ve got more newsletters we think you’ll find interesting. Please try again later. This email address has already registered for this newsletter.

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August 18, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

Netanyahu names new head of Israel’s National Security Council – The Jerusalem Post

Meir Ben-Shabbat. (photo credit:Courtesy) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday named Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) senior official Meir Ben-Shabbat as the new head of the National Security Council, a position that had been filled only on an interim basis since Yossi Cohen left to take over the Mossad in January 2016. Ben-Shabbat, 51, has served for 28 years in the Shin Bet, most recently as head of its southern division, which is responsible for the Gaza Strip. In announcing the appointment at Sundays cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said Ben-Shabbat has rich experience in defending the security of Israel, in the Israel Security Agency, including his recent post as head of the southern district, and he carried out all of his duties with distinction. He is also familiar to members of the security cabinet who are already well acquainted with the clarity of his thinking. We welcome him. In his nearly three decades in the Shin Bent, Ben-Shabbat has gained an expertise on the Gaza Strip and Hamas, and headed a number of different divisions, including cyber and the national anti-terrorism and anti-espionage divisions. Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett, who is a member of the security cabinet, welcomed the appointment, saying Ben-Shabbat brings years of security and defense experience in various capacities and a profound understanding of Israels national security. It is essential that the NSC be a strong organization, playing a central role in the oversight and management of our national security, Bennett said. It must also be a support system, to provide diverse diplomatic and security alternatives and to prevent a single-minded conception from taking over. Ben-Shabat will be the 10th head of the NSC since its formation in 1999, and the first to come from the ranks of the Shin Bet. Four of the previous heads came from the Mossad: Cohen, Ephraim Halevi, Ilan Mizrahi and Uzi Arad. Two others, Yaakov Amidror and Dani Arditi, held senior positions in military intelligence, and three of the former heads David Ivri, Uzi Dayan and Giora Eiland held senior military positions. The National Security Council has been without a full time head since Cohens departure for the Mossad. Netanyahus choice for Cohens replacement, Avriel Bar-Yosef, never took over the post and is currently one of the main suspects in allegations of improprieties in the purchase of three German submarines. Yaakov Nagel served as an interim replacement until April, and was instrumental in securing the $38 billion Memorandum of Understanding with the US governing its military aid to Israel over the next decade that was signed with the Obama administration. He was replaced upon his resignation by Eytan Ben-David, who has been the acting National Security Adviser since April. The NSC has some 70 employees, and among its duties is to provide the prime minister with a summary of intelligence information that comes in from the various intelligence services, as well as to prepare the security cabinet meetings. The head of the NSC is generally one of the prime ministers chief foreign policy advisers. Share on facebook

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August 13, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

Poll: Bennett, Sa’ar top potential successors to Netanyahu – The Jerusalem Post

Anti-corruption demonstration near the Petah Tikva home of Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit. . (photo credit:ALON HACHMON) Some 2,000 people participated in an anti-corruption demonstration near the Petah Tikva home of Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit on Saturday night. This was the largest demonstration since the weekly protests began eight months ago. Anti-corruption protest leader Eldad Yaniv credited Netanyahus high profile speech to Likud members on Wednesday for raising awareness of his demonstration. The more Israelis feel attacked, the more they come to demonstrations, Yaniv said. In response, coalition chairman David Bitan also held a counter-protest of some 400 people. Meanwhile, Bayit Yehudi leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett and former minister Gideon Saar are the top choices of the Right and the general public to succeed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a poll taken for The Jerusalem Posts sister newspaper Maariv. The Panels Research poll reported that among the general public, 38% found Saar fit to be prime minister, followed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon 32%, former defense minister Moshe Yaalon 30%, and Bennett with 26%. Among the Right, 42% said Bennett was fit to be prime minister. Saar was deemed fit by 41%, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan by 32%, Kahlon and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked by 29%. The poll found that Saar could win one more Knesset seat as leader of Likud than Netanyahu, taking away five seats from Yesh Atid and two from Kulanu, strengthening the Right. With Likud led by Netanyahu, the party would win 25 seats, Yesh Atid 21, Zionist Union 16, Bayit Yehudi 12, Joint List 11, Kulanu nine, United Torah Judaism eight, Yisrael Beytenu seven, Meretz six and Shas five. The poll of 562 respondents representing a statistical sample of the adult Israeli population has a margin of error of 4.3%. This was the second poll which found the Likud would be stronger with Saar at its helm rather than Netanyahu. A Statnet poll broadcast last Sunday night on Channel 10 found that Netanyahu would win 27 seats while Saar would take 31. When the Maariv poll asked respondents whether they believed Netanyahus claim that his investigations will amount to nothing because there isnt anything, 64% of Likud voters said yes, among the general public, however, only 31% agreed. Share on facebook

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August 13, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

Opposition leader: Benjamin Netanyahu dividing the nation instead … – The Jerusalem Post

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu . (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) Netanyahus speech to Likud members at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds was divisive when the people of Israel want unity, opposition leader Avi Gabbay told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. Gabbay referred to Netanyahus repeated insults on Wednesday evening of the Left, which he equated with the media. He didnt speak as a prime minister but like an insecure leader of a small party, Gabbay said. Instead of uniting the nation, he further divided it. The nation wants someone to unite them, and I hope we can persuade people we can do that best. We are ready for elections now. Gabbay said he did not believe the heads of the parties in Netanyahus coalition would topple him, even if the police decide to recommend indicting him. But he said that if Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit indicts Netanyahu, the coalition parties would have to force him out. I cant imagine a situation where he remains prime minister after an indictment, Gabbay said. I think the coalition heads would finally take action, because they wont be able to tell the public at election time that they allowed such a thing to happen. Asked if he was upset that Netanyahus speech was broadcast on all three networks and the opposition was not given equal time, he said Netanyahu might speak against the media, but he cant really be mad at the press after it served him so well. Former prime minister Ehud Barak also blasted the premier after Netanyahu called him in his speech The same old man with a new beard, who was briefly prime minister and not one of our successful ones. Netanyahu made fun of Baraks warnings that Israel would be isolated due to Netanyahus polices, noting that Israel now enjoys closer relations then ever with India, China, the US and Europe. Speaking in a video he posted on his Facebook page from abroad, Barak called Netanyahus speech a pathetic show of a cry-baby. He called upon the prime minister to resign as soon as possible. When the testimony of the states witnesses is published, the game will be over, Barak said. Bibi is about to finish his path. If he does it respectfully, his achievements will also be remembered. If he continues to hesitate, he will crash to the depths, and that would be too bad. The Likud responded on Facebook by saying that Barak cannot preach against corruption after he was investigated for illegally raising millions of shekels in the nonprofit organizations scandal. The Likud said that had Baraks then-cabinet secretary Isaac Herzog not remained silent during questioning, Barak would be sitting in prison today. Barak should continue his travels between the worlds most posh hotels and not make false charges against Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has always acted according to the law for the good of the people of Israel and its security, the Likud said. Share on facebook

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August 13, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

The corruption scandals plaguing Benjamin Netanyahu and his family explained by the numbers – The Jewish Standard

He has a firm grip on the government, but a mounting political scandal might bring him down. Officials from his own party have begun to distance themselves from him, but he remains defiant. Oh, and his son is in trouble, too. Just one more thing Benjamin Netanyahu has in common with President Donald Trump. Except theres a difference: While Trump faces one sprawling scandal, the Russia affair, Israels prime minister is embroiled in at least two. Police are conducting two additional corruption investigations that involve him indirectly. His wife, Sara, probably will be indicted soon in a separate case. And a left-wing NGO just sued his son Yair. Netanyahu appeared to be in increasing peril as of last week, when Ari Harow, his American-born former chief of staff, became a state witness. Despite it all, Netanyahu has remained confident. He has accused the Israeli media of peddling fake news about the scandals. On Monday, responding to an article predicting his ouster, Netanyahu tweeted two words: Wont happen. But will it happen? After winning four Israeli elections, will Netanyahu be done in by his own misdeeds? Or is it prosecutorial overreach? Heres a primer on the string of scandals and what they mean for the prime minister. Netanyahu is under investigation for receiving gifts and taking bribes. The two main corruption scandals involving Netanyahu both concern allegations of illicit dealings with rich and powerful men. In the first, called Case 1000, Netanyahu is accused of receiving expensive gifts from billionaires and then taking action on their behalf. In the second, called Case 2000, he is accused of striking an illicit deal with a newspaper publisher. In Case 1000, Netanyahu is alleged to have received tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts from Arnon Milchan, an Israeli Hollywood producer, and James Packer, an Australian casino mogul. The gifts include champagne, cigars, flights, and hotel rooms. In return, Netanyahu supposedly helped Milchan obtain a U.S. visa and Packer secure a residency permit in Israel. Netanyahu has acknowledged receiving the gifts but denies they were illegal or constituted bribes. In Case 2000, Netanyahu is accused of conspiring with Arnon Mozes, the owner of the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot, to advance legislation hobbling the free and pro-Netanyahu tabloid Israel Hayom, which is bankrolled by American billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Yediot, which historically has criticized Netanyahu, was to cover him more favorably in return. Although recordings of the conversations exist, Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing. Hes mixed up in two other corruption scandals and his wife and son are in trouble, too. Now you know about Cases 1000 and 2000. Heres some info on Cases 3000 and 4000, targeting Netanyahus associates, plus another scandal involving his wife and another his son. The rundown: Case 3000 involves alleged corruption in the sale of German submarines to Israel. Police have accused businessman Michael Ganor of bribing government officials to become the negotiating agent for ThyssenKrupp, the German company that built the subs. In addition, Netanyahus personal lawyer, David Shimron, simultaneously acted as Ganors representative during the negotiations over the sale. In Case 4000, the director-general of Israels Communications Ministry, Shlomo Filber, is accused of illicitly allowing Bezeq, the national telephone company, to buy shares of YES, a satellite cable provider. Filber was appointed by Netanyahu, who also serves as communications minister. Meanwhile, Sara Netanyahu is likely to be indicted for misusing public funds at the couples official residences. The Israeli first lady is accused of using government money to pay for private chefs at family events, a caregiver for her father, and weekend electrical work at the couples home in the tony coastal town of Caesarea. The allegations long have dogged Sara Netanyahu, who sometimes comes off in the Israeli media as the countrys Marie Antoinette. Finally Molad, a leftwing Israeli think tank, has sued Yair Netanyahu for libel. Yair, 26, wrote a Facebook post last week calling the group a radical, anti-Zionist organization funded by the Fund for Israels Destruction. (That was a reference to the New Israel Fund, a left-wing NGO that is the bte noire of the Israeli right.) Earlier that day, Molad had posted a listicle criticizing Yair Netanyahus political views and use of public funds. Netanyahu could be nearing indictment, but he might still stay in office. So what does this all mean for the prime minister, who has governed Israel since the beginning of the Obama administration in his second go-round in the office? It depends on two factors: Whether he is indicted, and whether that creates enough pressure to force him to resign. The fact that police now are working with Ari Harow, a confidant of the prime ministers, means that Harow may provide information leading to an indictment. The recordings of Netanyahus conversations with Mozes, for example, were found on Harows phone. Harow served two terms as Netanyahus chief of staff, and founded a consulting company between the two stints. Police have accused him of using his government position to advance his business interests. In return for becoming a state witness, Harow agreed to a plea deal in which he will perform community service and pay a fine rather than serve prison time. But even with Harows testimony, the going still will be slow. According to a handy explainer in Haaretz, police are not expected to issue their recommendation until after the High Holidays late next month. If police recommend an indictment, it still could take several months until the attorney general indicts Netanyahu formally. Even then, he isnt legally required to resign. Which is why the prime ministers fate may come down to pressure from fellow politicians and the public. A poll by Israels Channel 10 found that 66 percent of Israelis believe Netanyahu should resign if he is indicted. There is intrigue within Netanyahus Likud party as well, with some ministers openly backing him while another, speaking anonymously, said he should resign if indicted. (Un)fortunately, theres a precedent for this decision: Nine years ago, facing many corruption scandals, centrist Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resigned even before the police recommended an indictment. But stepping down didnt help him. Olmert was sentenced to prison in 2015 and served 16 months before he was released in July. Nor did resigning help Olmerts Kadima party. His successor, Tzipi Livni, lost the subsequent election in 2009 to Benjamin Netanyahu. JTA Wire Service

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August 13, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

Can Benjamin Netanyahu survive the corruption investigations swirling around him? – Telegraph.co.uk

Benjamin Netanyahu has been Israels prime minister for 11 years and is on course to become the Jewish states longest-serving leader. The 67-year-old is a former special forces commando and he appeals to many Israelis as a strong man who can keep Israel safe in a turbulent Middle East. He is the head of the conservative Likud party he leads a coalition government made of up several parties from the Right But Mr Netanyahus political career is now under threat from a series of corruption investigations that have rocked his premiership. He is fighting back, saying the investigations are a politically motivated witch hunt being carried out by the Israeli media and his opponents on the Left. Mr Netanyahu is being investigated on suspicion of bribery and fraud in at least two cases. The first investigation into Mr Netanyahu is known as Case 1000…

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August 11, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

Benjamin Netanyahu accuses ‘leftist media’ of promoting regime change in Israel – Washington Examiner

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at his country’s media for leading a campaign to oust him as he battles a series of corruption allegations. Netanyahu on Wednesday accused the media of being on “an obsessive, unprecedented hunt against me and my family to carry out a regime change” during a rally held by Israel’s Likud party in support of the prime minister. Hundreds of supporters packed a Tel Aviv convention center holding signs and chanting “Bibi, King of Israel,” using the prime minister’s nickname. Netanyahu said that the “leftist” media is teaming up with the political opposition to oust him and that they hope a police investigation will topple him because he cannot be defeated at the polls. “The left, and the media, and they’re the same thing,” Netanyahu said, according to the Associated Press. According to Israeli media, Netanyahu is being investigated for two corruption cases involving “bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.” He has maintained no wrongdoing. One claim is that he received gifts from wealthy backers, and the other is that he is involved in a deal to support legislating one newspaper group in return for favorable coverage from another newspaper group. “It’s not like I am going tomorrow, and they are going to replace me,” he said. “I don’t know what they want from me. I have nothing to fear. I don’t think I have a problem,” Netanyahu reportedly told members of his Likud Party Tuesday.

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August 11, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed


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