Jan 02 2019

What’s the matter with Bibi?

The United States is not the only country with a Criminal in Chief. Benjamin Netanyahu (who just called snap elections and is favored to win) is under increasing pressure in at least 3 corruption cases and is almost certainly guilty.

Vox has a summary.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu could be indicted. Here’s what you need to know.
By Alexia Underwood, Vox
Jan 2, 2019

There are currently three cases in which Netanyahu himself is a suspect. There’s also another case where his wife, Sara Netanyahu, is under indictment. And there’s yet another case that involves procurement of submarines and corruption of the military, in which people very close to the prime minister are suspects, though not Netanyahu himself.

In the first of the three cases, Israeli police allege that for years, Netanyahu and his wife Sara received gifts in the form of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of champagne, jewelry and cigars from wealthy individuals in the United States and Australia. In exchange, Netanyahu reportedly tried to extend tax exemption legislation that would have benefitted at least one of the men involved.

It’s unclear if there actually was a quid pro quo arrangement, but the charges could constitute bribery regardless. It’s worth noting that Netanyahu’s predecessor, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, went to prison after being convicted of accepting bribes, so it’s not a charge to be taken lightly.

In the second case, one of Netanyahu’s aides recorded lengthy conversations between the prime minister and the head of Israel’s largest opposition paper, in which they discussed making a deal where the paper would be less critical of Netanyahu.

In return, the prime minister would stop the weekend publication of their commercial rival, Israel Today, a paper owned by US casino magnate Sheldon Adelson (which is sometimes known in Israel as the “Bibi paper” for its pro-Netanyahu stance). The deal apparently was never settled, but the conversations in themselves were damning enough.

But experts who I spoke to told me that the third and most recent case against the prime minister is the strongest.

On December 2, Israeli police accused Netanyahu of trading regulatory favors for positive media coverage of himself and his family. Over a period of five years, the prime minister reportedly intervened in the day-to-day coverage and affairs of Walla!, a news website run by the country’s telecommunications company, Bezeq.

In return, Netanyahu — in his role as minister of communications, which is one of his titles — rewarded the company by using his political power to give them more favorable regulations, despite political opposition.

This case is more powerful than the first one, Natan Sachs, director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington, DC, told me. That’s because the deal actually took place. Police also interviewed close to 60 witnesses in order to piece their case together, so it doesn’t look like it’s going to be easy to sweep under the rug.

Unlike in the United States, Netanyahu is not protected from indictment by any rule though he did appoint the Attorney General who will decide whether charges are brought.

If he is indicted, he still may not have to leave office. There’s an ongoing legal debate about whether or not Netanyahu can be forced to resign if he has to sit trial. But leaders of other parties could likely say an indictment is a step too far, and call for his resignation.

If he’s convicted, however, the law is very clear, Sachs says: “He would have to resign.”

Bibi is a very bad man with very bad policies. It’s hard to see how progress can be made toward resolving any of the Middle East’s many conflicts as long as he is in office.

Once again- I/P? No. This is a piece about public corruption. I don’t mention Palestinians at all.