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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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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.

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

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

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

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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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Will Netanyahu’s rally intimidate state prosecution? – Israel News … – The Jerusalem Post

Rally in support of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit:Lahav Harkov)

A range of top current and former officials weighed in on Thursday about whether or not Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus Wednesday rally will intimidate the state prosecution from indicting him.

Beyond verbally attacking the media for their portrayal of the current criminal investigations against him, some officials suggested that Netanyahu also indirectly targeted the legal establishment.

In response, Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen said attempts to intimidate the legal establishment have never influenced, will not influence and it is prohibited for them to influence the prosecution from objectively performing its role.

Still, he said that such attempts are dangerous and that criminal investigations are not a political matter.

He did not say, however, if he believed the prosecution was one of Netanyahus targets.

Cohen singled out Likud MK Oren Hazan for going too far in his statements against law enforcement.

Retired Supreme Court justice and Press Council president Dalia Dorner agreed with Cohen that the rally would not affect the investigations.

We have a free, independent and impartial legal system that does its work regardless of even the most intense outside criticism, she told The Jerusalem Post.

Quoting Deuteronomy, Dorner said that you shall not tremble before any man was a principle that she and all current prosecutors and judges live by.

Although Dorner refrained from taking a position on whether Netanyahu should resign if indicted, she noted that former Supreme Court president Meir Shamgar has already said the prime minister should resign due to the severity of the suspicions against him.

Meanwhile, officials from the opposite school of thought said that the rally was designed to intimidate political opposition, the media and law enforcement.

Even if law enforcement officials do their best to edit out the noise of public debate, they told the Post, Wednesdays rally was so unprecedented that it will be hard to ignore.

They cited as an example the 18-month sentence that Hebron shooter Elor Azaria received, suggesting that it would not have been as lenient had there not have been as much public pressure.

Even former prime minister Ehud Olmert was not as aggressive as Netanyahu, they said. Whereas Olmert issued statements delegitimizing charges against him and said certain law enforcement officials were on a political crusade against him, Netanyahus public rally was more aggressive in its attacks, they explained.

Those concerned about the prime minister trying to delegitimize and intimidate the legal establishment said that from personal experience, the idea that law enforcement is anti-right wing is nonsense.

Law enforcement officials have mixed political views just as regular Israelis do, and in the past were even accused by Olmert of being anti-left wing, they added.

Some officials also believe that Netanyahu must resign if indicted even if the dry letter of the law does not explicitly require it.

According to this view, Netanyahu should not remain in power if he continues to refuse to explain to the public his side of the story, beyond what he has said: There will be nothing because there is nothing.

This view is based on the idea that even if public figures have a right to the presumption of innocence like normal citizens, they have a greater obligation to explain their actions to the public.

Those with this view say the rally, the political threats leveled against ministers so that they would attend and the time and energy put into organizing the event, are Exhibit A as to how much the investigations are distracting Netanyahu from doing his job.

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August 11, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

Press Council head calls Netanyahu’s attack on media ‘pathetic’ – The Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a rally.. (photo credit:AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

The head of the Press Council, retired Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner, responded fiercely on Thursday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus criticism of the media in his address to Likud members the previous night at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.

Netanyahu accused the Left and the media of being one and the same, together on an obsessive, unprecedented witch-hunt against me and my family, seeking to overthrow the government….

Their goal is to put inappropriate pressure on law enforcement, with no connection to justice.

A sign in the crowd at the Fairgrounds read, Its not fake news, its f***ing news.

Dorner told Israel Radio it was pathetic to attack the press and that making the press into the enemy of the nation is anti-democratic.

He is going through a tough time and it is not easy for a man of his stature to deal with that, she said. But he should care about the standing of our democracy as well. I have seen the way journalists are preyed upon in other kinds of regimes.

The Press Council released a statement warning against Netanyahu trying to paint the press as an enemy, saying it endangers the democratic nature of Israeli society.

The statement said Netanyahus investigations are proceeding according to the law and the prime minister was wrong to conflate the press and the legal processes of his probes.

The press will continue to report on the investigations as long as they take place, because that is their obligation to the public, the Press Council said. Wrongly characterizing reporters as adversaries of the nation could harm their ability cover the situation and inform the public. Investigative journalists who are trying to reveal information the public has a right to know must not be harmed.

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Despite Netanyahu visit, work on southern security barrier still frozen – The Jerusalem Post

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu tours sections of the West Bank security barriers southern loop yesterday with members of the security cabinet and others. . (photo credit:GPO)

Work on some 100 kilometers of the West Bank security barrier in Gush Etzion and the Judean Hills remains frozen after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the security cabinet toured the area on Tuesday.

Netanyahu had been expected to announce renewed work on the barrier after a Palestinian from Yatta in the South Hebron Hills stabbed Niv Nehemiah in a supermarket in Yavne.

According to settlers and political sources, the security cabinet was due to debate and vote on resumption of the work, which along with the rest of the barrier, has been largely frozen for the last 10 years.

On Twitter, the Prime Ministers Office and Netanyahu himself released a number of short videos showing the tour.

These included pictures of Netanyahu poring over maps, looking as if he was about to take action.

Completing the barrier in that area would have cost NIS 3 billion, said Kfar Etzion Field School director Yaron Rosenthal.

His school along with the Gush Etzion Regional Council, Palestinians in the area and environmental groups have opposed its construction.

In the morning, Rosenthals school sent a number of messages on the subject to the media and activists, warning them of the pending security cabinet vote.

By night, Rosenthal said, Netanyahu had backed down from the matter when he saw he did not have enough support from the security cabinet to approve resumption of the project.

We are happy that the security cabinet ministers understood that the security results of the barrier paled in comparison to the harm building it would cause, said Rosenthal.

If it is built, the separation barrier will destroy the area of the Judean Hills and the Gush Etzion, which is among the most beautiful in the country, he said. We think that there is no security justification to destroy the nature, and heritage. We want to leave the homeland to our grandchildren as we received it.

The issue in that region has been considered dormant since 2015, when the Defense Ministry told the High Court of Justice it did not plan to build the barrier in Gush Etzion at the time, but reserved the right to reconsider that decision.

Gideon Bromberg, Israeli co-director of EcoPeace Middle East, warned: The Judean Desert area around Ein Gedi is a critical corridor for wildlife and there is a real concern here for the survival of the species there that are already under tremendous stress.

The barrier is also slated to run through Battir, with its drip irrigation and 4,000-year-old terraces, inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in Danger.

In the last year, the Defense Ministry has worked on rebuilding 42 km. of the barrier in the South Hebron Hills, as it stretches along the Green Line. But it has not substantively worked on the 45-km. stretch from that barrier through Gush Etzion to Jerusalem. Nor has it worked on the 55 km. of barrier from the Dead Sea up to Yatir.

In 2006, the government voted for 790 km. of the barrier, of which some 470 have been constructed. In 2016, the Defense Ministry spoke of a 541- km. route that would not include the loops around the blocs of Gush Etzion, Maaleh Adumim or Ariel.

The wave of violence that began in 2015 has renewed focus on the barrier.

Since then, Netanyahu has vowed at least twice to complete the gaps in the structure.

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A corruption investigation could bring down Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – Vox

A long-running corruption scandal in Israel has taken an explosive new turn, leading to the very real prospect that Israels long-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will lose his job and even potentially be sent to jail.

Netanyahu, arguably Donald Trumps closest ally in the Middle East, has been shadowed by allegations of financial improprieties for years, but has always stayed one step ahead of his pursuers. That seems to be changing.

The latest and potentially decisive blows to Netanyahu began last week with a pair of disclosures that stunned observers on both sides of Israels political spectrum.

On Thursday, court filings revealed Netanyahu was now officially a suspect in bribery, breach of trust, and fraud cases. Another shocker came that same day with news that Netanyahus former chief of staff, an Israeli-American named Ari Harow, took a plea bargain to become a states witness in a corruption case against his former boss. In exchange for a light sentence of community service, and a 700,000 shekel ($193,000) fine, Harow will now testify against Netanyahu.

Its not just the prime minister his whole household is under scrutiny: The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Monday that his wife, Sara Netanyahu, will likely be indicted soon for misuse of government funds.

For most politicians, those types of disclosures would mean it was a question of when, not if, their careers would end in disgrace. But Netanyahu has long been the phoenix of Israeli politics, and he angrily dismissed the new revelations. On Facebook he derisively called them background noise.

Miri Regev, the minister of sports and culture and a close Netanyahu ally, told the press, Im not worried at all. The prime minister is not worried either.

So far many of Netanyahus allies have remained behind him. But if his legal woes continue, that could change. And while its still too early to assess the likelihood of incarceration, prison is not totally out of the question. After all former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was only just released from prison after serving 16 months for a different corruption charge.

To be sure, an indictment might not mean the end of Netanyahus political career. Formally, he wont have to resign, Hebrew University law professor Barak Medina told the Associated Press. [I]f all the information comes out and the police recommend he be charged with a serious crime, it is unlikely he will be able to carry on in his job.

That wouldnt just be bad news for Netanyahu, who is trying to surpass David Ben-Gurion, the founder of the modern Jewish State, as the longest-serving prime minister in his countrys history. It would also be bad news for President Donald Trump, whod be losing his closest ally in the Middle East just as he prepares a major new peace initiative.

There are so many separate corruption charges threatening to finally bring down Netanyahu that the Israeli press refers to them by numbers.

In Case 2000, Netanyahu is suspected to have colluded with Arnon Mozes, publisher of Israels daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot to undermine the circulation of Israels free daily paper, Israel HaYom. The latter is a free daily sponsored by American billionaire (and Republican king-maker) Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate with tremendous reach and influence on Israeli politics.

Back in January the police revealed they had tapes that would show what the Israel press called a quid pro quo deal between Mozes and Netanyahu. Mozes apparently promised to do everything in his power to keep Netanyahu in office, Netanyahu, in turn, appears to have indicated he would do what he could to limit Israel HaYoms reach some reports implied that might have meant through legislation.

The recordings were made by Ari Harow, the very same chief of staff who cut the deal last week.

Israeli police found those tapes, apparently unexpectedly, while searching Harows home for evidence that he had not fully divested himself from his own consulting firm before beginning work in the prime ministers office. (Harow had officially transferred the firm to his brother, to avoid ethics violations; that gambit clearly failed).

In Case 1000, Arnon Milchan, a film producer, is said to have given large monetary gifts to Netanyahu and his wife, Sara. Further, Australian billionaire James Packer was said to have showered the couple with gifts and meals at their home in the Israeli coastal city Ceasaria. As Noam Sheizaf reported for Vox earlier this year, in one incident reported by the Israeli media, Netanyahus wife, Sara, specifically demanded $2,700 worth of jewelry.

For their part, the Netanyahus have said the gifts were merely (legal) gifts between friends. But, as Sheizaf pointed out, Milchan has a stake in Israels Channel 10 news, subject to regulation by the Israeli Ministry of Communications which, itself, was run by Netanyahu until recently. And Netanyahu personally got involved in Milchans visa renewal process. None of it smelled quite kosher.

A third criminal investigation, Case 3000, involves the purchase of German submarines. This one is the most complicated, and has the most tenuous line to Netanyahu. Six people have been brought in for questioning, one of whom is Netanyahus personal lawyer who himself also represented the submarine manufacturer. Haaretz reported late last month that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus personal lawyer was due to earn tens of millions of shekels from an agreement, since suspended, to buy three submarines from Germany.

Finally, Israeli authorities have long threatened to indict Sara Netanyahu for fraud. As Haaretz reported today, she is accused of using government money to pay for what they call personal expenses in her private home. The countrys attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, is expected to indict her within the next few days.

Netanyahaus political fate has long rested in the hands of Mandelblit, who has a mixed reputation in Israel. Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, a longtime Netanyahu rival, has publicly criticized the attorney general for failing to indict and prosecute the prime minister more quickly. Barak and other critics point to Mandelblits previous job as a cabinet secretary, which involved working closely with Netanyahu. Mandelblits ascension was considered a win for Netanyahu when he took the position.

But a high-level police investigator told Noam Sheizaf earlier this year that that slow movement might mean Mandeblit was taking his time to build a stronger case against the prime minister. That doesnt mean an indictment will come tomorrow. But it makes an indictment seem likelier.

Sima Kadmon, a political columnist in Israel, wrote at the end of last week that Harow is the game changer because he was so close to the prime minister, noting that Harow once served as Netanyahus foreign relations advisor and held a variety of other senior posts for the last decade.

That means Harrow has had unique access to Netanyahus activities for the last several years and can speak, as few others can, to their legality.

All that said, prosecuting Netanyahu may still be months, or even years, away.

This feels like we are at the beginning of the end, said Daniel Levy, the president of the US Middle East Project.

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A corruption investigation could bring down Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – Vox

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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

Will Netanyahu’s rally intimidate state prosecution? – Israel News … – The Jerusalem Post

Rally in support of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit:Lahav Harkov) A range of top current and former officials weighed in on Thursday about whether or not Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus Wednesday rally will intimidate the state prosecution from indicting him. Beyond verbally attacking the media for their portrayal of the current criminal investigations against him, some officials suggested that Netanyahu also indirectly targeted the legal establishment. In response, Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen said attempts to intimidate the legal establishment have never influenced, will not influence and it is prohibited for them to influence the prosecution from objectively performing its role. Still, he said that such attempts are dangerous and that criminal investigations are not a political matter. He did not say, however, if he believed the prosecution was one of Netanyahus targets. Cohen singled out Likud MK Oren Hazan for going too far in his statements against law enforcement. Retired Supreme Court justice and Press Council president Dalia Dorner agreed with Cohen that the rally would not affect the investigations. We have a free, independent and impartial legal system that does its work regardless of even the most intense outside criticism, she told The Jerusalem Post. Quoting Deuteronomy, Dorner said that you shall not tremble before any man was a principle that she and all current prosecutors and judges live by. Although Dorner refrained from taking a position on whether Netanyahu should resign if indicted, she noted that former Supreme Court president Meir Shamgar has already said the prime minister should resign due to the severity of the suspicions against him. Meanwhile, officials from the opposite school of thought said that the rally was designed to intimidate political opposition, the media and law enforcement. Even if law enforcement officials do their best to edit out the noise of public debate, they told the Post, Wednesdays rally was so unprecedented that it will be hard to ignore. They cited as an example the 18-month sentence that Hebron shooter Elor Azaria received, suggesting that it would not have been as lenient had there not have been as much public pressure. Even former prime minister Ehud Olmert was not as aggressive as Netanyahu, they said. Whereas Olmert issued statements delegitimizing charges against him and said certain law enforcement officials were on a political crusade against him, Netanyahus public rally was more aggressive in its attacks, they explained. Those concerned about the prime minister trying to delegitimize and intimidate the legal establishment said that from personal experience, the idea that law enforcement is anti-right wing is nonsense. Law enforcement officials have mixed political views just as regular Israelis do, and in the past were even accused by Olmert of being anti-left wing, they added. Some officials also believe that Netanyahu must resign if indicted even if the dry letter of the law does not explicitly require it. According to this view, Netanyahu should not remain in power if he continues to refuse to explain to the public his side of the story, beyond what he has said: There will be nothing because there is nothing. This view is based on the idea that even if public figures have a right to the presumption of innocence like normal citizens, they have a greater obligation to explain their actions to the public. Those with this view say the rally, the political threats leveled against ministers so that they would attend and the time and energy put into organizing the event, are Exhibit A as to how much the investigations are distracting Netanyahu from doing his job. Share on facebook

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August 11, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

Press Council head calls Netanyahu’s attack on media ‘pathetic’ – The Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a rally.. (photo credit:AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV) The head of the Press Council, retired Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner, responded fiercely on Thursday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus criticism of the media in his address to Likud members the previous night at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds. Netanyahu accused the Left and the media of being one and the same, together on an obsessive, unprecedented witch-hunt against me and my family, seeking to overthrow the government…. Their goal is to put inappropriate pressure on law enforcement, with no connection to justice. A sign in the crowd at the Fairgrounds read, Its not fake news, its f***ing news. Dorner told Israel Radio it was pathetic to attack the press and that making the press into the enemy of the nation is anti-democratic. He is going through a tough time and it is not easy for a man of his stature to deal with that, she said. But he should care about the standing of our democracy as well. I have seen the way journalists are preyed upon in other kinds of regimes. The Press Council released a statement warning against Netanyahu trying to paint the press as an enemy, saying it endangers the democratic nature of Israeli society. The statement said Netanyahus investigations are proceeding according to the law and the prime minister was wrong to conflate the press and the legal processes of his probes. The press will continue to report on the investigations as long as they take place, because that is their obligation to the public, the Press Council said. Wrongly characterizing reporters as adversaries of the nation could harm their ability cover the situation and inform the public. Investigative journalists who are trying to reveal information the public has a right to know must not be harmed. Share on facebook

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August 10, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

Despite Netanyahu visit, work on southern security barrier still frozen – The Jerusalem Post

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu tours sections of the West Bank security barriers southern loop yesterday with members of the security cabinet and others. . (photo credit:GPO) Work on some 100 kilometers of the West Bank security barrier in Gush Etzion and the Judean Hills remains frozen after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the security cabinet toured the area on Tuesday. Netanyahu had been expected to announce renewed work on the barrier after a Palestinian from Yatta in the South Hebron Hills stabbed Niv Nehemiah in a supermarket in Yavne. According to settlers and political sources, the security cabinet was due to debate and vote on resumption of the work, which along with the rest of the barrier, has been largely frozen for the last 10 years. On Twitter, the Prime Ministers Office and Netanyahu himself released a number of short videos showing the tour. These included pictures of Netanyahu poring over maps, looking as if he was about to take action. Completing the barrier in that area would have cost NIS 3 billion, said Kfar Etzion Field School director Yaron Rosenthal. His school along with the Gush Etzion Regional Council, Palestinians in the area and environmental groups have opposed its construction. In the morning, Rosenthals school sent a number of messages on the subject to the media and activists, warning them of the pending security cabinet vote. By night, Rosenthal said, Netanyahu had backed down from the matter when he saw he did not have enough support from the security cabinet to approve resumption of the project. We are happy that the security cabinet ministers understood that the security results of the barrier paled in comparison to the harm building it would cause, said Rosenthal. If it is built, the separation barrier will destroy the area of the Judean Hills and the Gush Etzion, which is among the most beautiful in the country, he said. We think that there is no security justification to destroy the nature, and heritage. We want to leave the homeland to our grandchildren as we received it. The issue in that region has been considered dormant since 2015, when the Defense Ministry told the High Court of Justice it did not plan to build the barrier in Gush Etzion at the time, but reserved the right to reconsider that decision. Gideon Bromberg, Israeli co-director of EcoPeace Middle East, warned: The Judean Desert area around Ein Gedi is a critical corridor for wildlife and there is a real concern here for the survival of the species there that are already under tremendous stress. The barrier is also slated to run through Battir, with its drip irrigation and 4,000-year-old terraces, inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in Danger. In the last year, the Defense Ministry has worked on rebuilding 42 km. of the barrier in the South Hebron Hills, as it stretches along the Green Line. But it has not substantively worked on the 45-km. stretch from that barrier through Gush Etzion to Jerusalem. Nor has it worked on the 55 km. of barrier from the Dead Sea up to Yatir. In 2006, the government voted for 790 km. of the barrier, of which some 470 have been constructed. In 2016, the Defense Ministry spoke of a 541- km. route that would not include the loops around the blocs of Gush Etzion, Maaleh Adumim or Ariel. The wave of violence that began in 2015 has renewed focus on the barrier. Since then, Netanyahu has vowed at least twice to complete the gaps in the structure. Share on facebook

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August 10, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

A corruption investigation could bring down Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – Vox

A long-running corruption scandal in Israel has taken an explosive new turn, leading to the very real prospect that Israels long-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will lose his job and even potentially be sent to jail. Netanyahu, arguably Donald Trumps closest ally in the Middle East, has been shadowed by allegations of financial improprieties for years, but has always stayed one step ahead of his pursuers. That seems to be changing. The latest and potentially decisive blows to Netanyahu began last week with a pair of disclosures that stunned observers on both sides of Israels political spectrum. On Thursday, court filings revealed Netanyahu was now officially a suspect in bribery, breach of trust, and fraud cases. Another shocker came that same day with news that Netanyahus former chief of staff, an Israeli-American named Ari Harow, took a plea bargain to become a states witness in a corruption case against his former boss. In exchange for a light sentence of community service, and a 700,000 shekel ($193,000) fine, Harow will now testify against Netanyahu. Its not just the prime minister his whole household is under scrutiny: The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Monday that his wife, Sara Netanyahu, will likely be indicted soon for misuse of government funds. For most politicians, those types of disclosures would mean it was a question of when, not if, their careers would end in disgrace. But Netanyahu has long been the phoenix of Israeli politics, and he angrily dismissed the new revelations. On Facebook he derisively called them background noise. Miri Regev, the minister of sports and culture and a close Netanyahu ally, told the press, Im not worried at all. The prime minister is not worried either. So far many of Netanyahus allies have remained behind him. But if his legal woes continue, that could change. And while its still too early to assess the likelihood of incarceration, prison is not totally out of the question. After all former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was only just released from prison after serving 16 months for a different corruption charge. To be sure, an indictment might not mean the end of Netanyahus political career. Formally, he wont have to resign, Hebrew University law professor Barak Medina told the Associated Press. [I]f all the information comes out and the police recommend he be charged with a serious crime, it is unlikely he will be able to carry on in his job. That wouldnt just be bad news for Netanyahu, who is trying to surpass David Ben-Gurion, the founder of the modern Jewish State, as the longest-serving prime minister in his countrys history. It would also be bad news for President Donald Trump, whod be losing his closest ally in the Middle East just as he prepares a major new peace initiative. There are so many separate corruption charges threatening to finally bring down Netanyahu that the Israeli press refers to them by numbers. In Case 2000, Netanyahu is suspected to have colluded with Arnon Mozes, publisher of Israels daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot to undermine the circulation of Israels free daily paper, Israel HaYom. The latter is a free daily sponsored by American billionaire (and Republican king-maker) Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate with tremendous reach and influence on Israeli politics. Back in January the police revealed they had tapes that would show what the Israel press called a quid pro quo deal between Mozes and Netanyahu. Mozes apparently promised to do everything in his power to keep Netanyahu in office, Netanyahu, in turn, appears to have indicated he would do what he could to limit Israel HaYoms reach some reports implied that might have meant through legislation. The recordings were made by Ari Harow, the very same chief of staff who cut the deal last week. Israeli police found those tapes, apparently unexpectedly, while searching Harows home for evidence that he had not fully divested himself from his own consulting firm before beginning work in the prime ministers office. (Harow had officially transferred the firm to his brother, to avoid ethics violations; that gambit clearly failed). In Case 1000, Arnon Milchan, a film producer, is said to have given large monetary gifts to Netanyahu and his wife, Sara. Further, Australian billionaire James Packer was said to have showered the couple with gifts and meals at their home in the Israeli coastal city Ceasaria. As Noam Sheizaf reported for Vox earlier this year, in one incident reported by the Israeli media, Netanyahus wife, Sara, specifically demanded $2,700 worth of jewelry. For their part, the Netanyahus have said the gifts were merely (legal) gifts between friends. But, as Sheizaf pointed out, Milchan has a stake in Israels Channel 10 news, subject to regulation by the Israeli Ministry of Communications which, itself, was run by Netanyahu until recently. And Netanyahu personally got involved in Milchans visa renewal process. None of it smelled quite kosher. A third criminal investigation, Case 3000, involves the purchase of German submarines. This one is the most complicated, and has the most tenuous line to Netanyahu. Six people have been brought in for questioning, one of whom is Netanyahus personal lawyer who himself also represented the submarine manufacturer. Haaretz reported late last month that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus personal lawyer was due to earn tens of millions of shekels from an agreement, since suspended, to buy three submarines from Germany. Finally, Israeli authorities have long threatened to indict Sara Netanyahu for fraud. As Haaretz reported today, she is accused of using government money to pay for what they call personal expenses in her private home. The countrys attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, is expected to indict her within the next few days. Netanyahaus political fate has long rested in the hands of Mandelblit, who has a mixed reputation in Israel. Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, a longtime Netanyahu rival, has publicly criticized the attorney general for failing to indict and prosecute the prime minister more quickly. Barak and other critics point to Mandelblits previous job as a cabinet secretary, which involved working closely with Netanyahu. Mandelblits ascension was considered a win for Netanyahu when he took the position. But a high-level police investigator told Noam Sheizaf earlier this year that that slow movement might mean Mandeblit was taking his time to build a stronger case against the prime minister. That doesnt mean an indictment will come tomorrow. But it makes an indictment seem likelier. Sima Kadmon, a political columnist in Israel, wrote at the end of last week that Harow is the game changer because he was so close to the prime minister, noting that Harow once served as Netanyahus foreign relations advisor and held a variety of other senior posts for the last decade. That means Harrow has had unique access to Netanyahus activities for the last several years and can speak, as few others can, to their legality. All that said, prosecuting Netanyahu may still be months, or even years, away. This feels like we are at the beginning of the end, said Daniel Levy, the president of the US Middle East Project.

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August 8, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed


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