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14 Feb 2018

Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu faces corruption charges

Will Israeli PM Netanyahu be indicted for corruption?

Israeli police has claimed that there is enough evidence to indict scandal-ridden PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Reportedly, he faces allegations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two separate cases.

Netanyahu has, however, called these allegations baseless. He has stuck to his oft-repeated statement, "Here will be nothing, because there is nothing."

What are the allegations? What does it imply?

Here's all about it.

In context

Will Israeli PM Netanyahu be indicted for corruption?
Who is PM Benjamin Netanyahu?


Who is PM Benjamin Netanyahu?

Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, PM since 2009, will soon have the distinction of being Israel's longest-serving PM, if he stays beyond September this year.

Earlier a commando, Netanyahu became involved in domestic politics in 1988.

Part of the right-wing Likud Party, he has served in various other capacities like Foreign Minister and Finance Minister.

Further, he has taken a tough stance against Iran and Palestine.

Case 1000

Allegation-1: Netanyahu accepted lavish gifts for advancing interests of wealthy

First allegation (termed Case 1000) states that Netanyahu received champagne, cigars, jewelry, clothing etc. worth over one million shekels ($280,000) from Israeli-American Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan; these increased after he was elected PM.

In return, Netanyahu helped to extend Milchan's US visa.

He also pushed for the Milchan Law: Israelis returning to live in Israel after staying abroad should get 10yr-exemption from paying taxes.

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Allegation-2: Netanyahu made a favorable coverage deal with a newspaper

Case 2000

Allegation-2: Netanyahu made a favorable coverage deal with a newspaper

Second allegation (termed case 2000) claims that Netanyahu and publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's second-largest newspaper, Arnon Mozes, had a give-and-take relationship. Thus, Netanyahu verbally promised to limit the circulation of rival newspaper Israel Hayom, in exchange for favorable coverage for his government's policies.

Further, Netanyahu also allegedly discussed legislation benefiting Mozes with lawmakers.

Police apparently have strong evidence to indict Mozes as well.

What does Netanyahu have to say?

Netanyahu has angrily rejected these accusations. He accused the police of being on a witch-hunt and openly questioned their integrity. He also vowed to remain in office and stand for re-election. However, the police have reiterated that Netanyahu has been acting "against public interests."


What does this mean for Netanyahu?

So, will Netanyahu survive this dramatic setback? Possibly.

Under Israeli law, a minister charged with a serious crime must resign. But, a PM doesn't have to.

Now, both cases will go to the Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, Netanyahu's favored candidate. He will decide whether to press charges, a process that could drag on until next year.

He will only be forced out if convicted.

What does it mean for Israeli politics?


What does it mean for Israeli politics?

Though Netanyahu's lavish lifestyle has been scrutinized before, this is the first time he is being charged formally.

Politically, Netanyahu's rivals are ineffectual. Israel's sturdy centre-left The Labor Party is witnessing a leadership void.

He has also ruthlessly pushed aside rivals in his own party.

Moreover, his coalition won't want to gamble, lest the resultant elections unseat the right-wing.

So, presently, Netanyahu remains unchallenged.

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