Table of Contents
The Reign of the Prosecution: Caroline B. Glick, Israel Hayom, Nov. 22, 2019
Asking Us to Side with Him Against the State, Netanyahu Harms his Beloved Israel: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, Nov. 21, 2019
Wake up, MKs: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 22, 2019
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted on corruption charges on Thursday, throwing him into a legal limbo and driving the country deeper into political crisis. Netanyahu, 70, denies all wrongdoing. But he now faces a legal process that could drag on for years, leading a nation in political deadlock after two inconclusive elections this year. Here is a guide to the criminal cases against him:
WHAT ARE THE ALLEGATIONS?
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit announced that he has filed criminal charges against Netanyahu in investigations listed as cases 1000, 2000 and 4000.
CASE 1000 centers on allegations that Netanyahu and his wife Sara wrongfully received almost 700,000 shekels (about $200,000) worth of gifts from Arnon Milchan, a prominent Hollywood producer and Israeli citizen, and Australian billionaire businessman James Packer. Prosecutors described a “supply-line” of gifts including champagne and cigars. According to the indictment, Netanyahu used his role in public office to help Milchan with his business interests. “With these actions the defendant Netanyahu carried out acts of breach of trust that gravely hurt public trust and clean conduct,” the indictment said. He has been charged with fraud and breach of trust.
CASE 2000 alleges that Netanyahu negotiated a deal with Arnon Mozes, owner of Israel’s best-selling daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, for better coverage. In return, prosecutors say, the prime minister offered legislation that would slow the growth of a rival daily newspaper. In this case Netanyahu has been charged with fraud and breach of trust and Mozes has been charged with offering a bribe. Mozes too denies wrongdoing. “By using his stature and power of office in order to receive favors and by being the most senior publicly elected official, he conveyed a message according to which offers of bribery are a means that can be used in order to further the mutual interests of senior public officials and business people and that there is nothing wrong with bribery,” the indictment said.
CASE 4000, the most serious of the three, alleges that Netanyahu granted a series of regulatory favors worth around 1.8 billion shekels (about $500 million) to Israel’s leading telecommunications company, Bezeq Telecom Israel (BEZQ.TA). In return, prosecutors say, he sought positive coverage of him and his wife on a news website controlled by the company’s former chairman, Shaul Elovitch. According to the indictment, Netanyahu maintained a “give and take” relationship with Elovitch and his wife, Iris. Netanyahu has been charged with bribery, as well as fraud and breach of trust, in this case. Elovitch and his wife, Iris, have been charged with bribery and obstruction of justice. The couple denies wrongdoing.
WHAT DOES NETANYAHU SAY?
Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a politically orchestrated “witch hunt” by the media and the left to oust him from office. Loyalists in Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party have accused the Israeli justice system of bias, and Netanyahu has argued that receiving gifts from friends was not against the law. His legal team says criminal probes into the relations between politicians and the news media would be a threat to a free press, a central pillar of any democracy. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
In Israel Thursday morning, the politicians were the big story. Israel Beitenu chairman Avigdor Lieberman was the villain who had held the country hostage for nearly a year as he fed his narcissistic personality disorder.
The left’s latest flagship, the Blue and White party is all the once vibrant political camp can put together now that it has lost its ideology. With its God of peace killed by suicide bombers and missiles, and its socialism statues crushed under the weight of bankrupt government companies, all the left has left is Blue and White. The party stands on two planks – destroying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and eternalizing the regime of Israel’s unelected bureaucrats.
The party’s figurehead – Benny Gantz – was tempted to join a unity government with Netanyahu that would guarantee he would serve as prime minister in a rotation agreement. But his comrades wouldn’t let him. Joining a government with Netanyahu would be a betrayal of their very reason for existing. So, unhappily, he walked away.
And then there was Netanyahu himself. Thursday morning, his supporters shook their heads in frustration and his enemies clapped their hands in glee at the sight of Israel’s greatest statesman, the leader the public wants to keep in office, unable to form a government.
The conversation about Israel’s politicians lasted less than 24 hours.
At four in the afternoon, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s office announced that at 7:30 in the evening he would announce his decision to indict Netanyahu. The underlying message was crystal clear: The day after Gantz returned his mandate to form a government to President Reuven Rivlin after he failed to get a sufficient number of coalition partners to build a government, Mandelblit said that there’s no point in talking about whether or not Israel is going to new elections in March.
Voters don’t decide anything. The lawyers do. Politicians are irrelevant. The only people who count in Israel today are the unelected attorneys who run the country. But then we already knew that. And the fact that – as expected – Mandelblit announced sternly that he is indicting Netanyahu on three charges of breach of trust and one charge of bribery was at best anticlimactic. The game was up – if it was ever in play – in February. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Among Israelis and those who care about Israel, there should be no celebrating the attorney general’s announcement Thursday that Benjamin Netanyahu is to stand trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu is the longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history, an astute, intelligent and articulate leader who has repeatedly won the public’s trust at the ballot box and steered Israel through the past decade’s multi-threatening challenges in a dangerous, unpredictable Middle East.
But neither should there be any underestimating the gravity of the conclusion carefully drawn by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit — at the end of a protracted investigation, and after weighing a final effort by Netanyahu’s attorneys to dissuade him — that the prime minister must answer in court for his actions in the three graft cases against him.
The allegations that the prime minister criminally abused his office are “grave,” Mandelblit made clear in a 15-minute appearance Thursday evening at which he exuded a mixture of competence, responsibility, certainty about his decision, and sorrow about its consequences.
Since it was his firm conclusion that there was “a reasonable likelihood” Netanyahu would be convicted of the offenses, Mandelblit stressed, “it was my legal obligation to press charges — not a choice, but a requirement.” At the same time, he stressed, Netanyahu retains the presumption of innocence; it is the judges who will decide his fate.
Thursday’s announcement marks the first time in Israel’s history that criminal charges have been issued against a serving prime minister, but it does not automatically mark the end of the road for Netanyahu. He can seek immunity from prosecution via the Knesset — a process that could take months, given that Israeli politics is largely paralyzed in the wake of April’s and September’s deadlocked elections, and the Knesset House Committee that would consider an immunity request has not been selected and may not be functional for weeks or even months.
And even if the immunity route proves fruitless, or Netanyahu were to eschew it, Israeli law is not definitive on whether a serving prime minister is required to step down when charged, or even when convicted. There is a legal argument that he would have the right to remain in office until the entire appeals process has been exhausted — a legal argument that has never been tested, because Israel has never found itself in this ignominious situation before. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
To all 120 members of Knesset:
This is a wakeup call. Get your act together and don’t let there be a third election in less than a year. The people of Israel are not your biggest fans in the best of times. The Israel Democracy Institute’s Democracy Index for 2018 found that just over a quarter (27.5%) of Israelis trust the Knesset and only slightly more than that (30.5%) trust the government. Those numbers are not outliers.
The 2019 poll hasn’t been released yet, but those numbers will surely tank after a year of two elections followed by repeated failures to form a government. If there’s a third election in March, don’t be surprised if the public’s trust hits an all-time low. The trust indicator isn’t just about whether people like the Knesset or not. The more people roll their eyes at news of politicians, the more their response to any mention of MKs is one of contempt, the weaker our democratic institutions get.
The citizens of any democratic country are what grant its institutions legitimacy. The less trust they have in you, the fewer of them taking part or an interest in the democratic process, the less legitimate our government and Knesset will seem. Some of you don’t connect to lofty ideals about democracy and being the voice of the people – that much has been made clear in the past year – so here are some practical and concrete reasons not to let a third election happen.
Israel has a massive, yawning budget deficit that needs to be dealt with by passing an actual state government, instead of the piecemeal funding transfers the Knesset Finance Committee has had to deal with every week. Meanwhile, the expansion of the medicine basket, the selection of medications provided by our socialized medicine system, has been delayed, keeping people from receiving life-saving treatments. Social services are falling apart, without enough funding to keep battered women’s shelters, homes for teenage runaways and more from staying open and putting our weakest citizens at risk.
Reforms in the education system can’t be renewed, such as the “holiday schools,” in-school programming during Hanukkah, which is a week of vacation from classes but not from work for most parents. Children with severe allergies won’t be able to have a designated aide in preschools to make sure they don’t accidentally come into contact with whatever triggers a life-threatening response.
On top of the domestic issues that political paralysis has exacerbated, we have the security situation. Iran is growing emboldened, launching attacks at us from over the Syrian border. Hezbollah is as strong as ever. Terrorists in Gaza have rained hundreds of rockets down on us in the past year, along with other flaming projectiles over the border fence.
As last week’s Operation Black Belt showed, Israel can defend itself even without a functioning government, and even take initiative instead of just responding. But the operation came with a bitter taste, with more and more politicians raising questions about the timing and whether it benefits one political side or another. And only a stable government can take the kinds of decisive action Israel needs to improve the situation for residents of the South. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
For Further Reference:
Full Text: AG’s Announcement Of Decision To Indict Prime Minister Netanyahu: Times of Israel, Nov. 22, 2019 — The Attorney General, Dr. Avichai Mandelblit, has decided to indict the Prime Minister, MK Benjamin Netanyahu (“Mr. Netanyahu”), for offenses of taking a bribe, breach of trust in Case 4000, and for offenses of breach of trust in Cases 1000 and 2000, which he allegedly committed while holding office as Prime Minister and Minister of Communications.
Netanyahu, it’s Time to Step Down – Comment: Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 21, 2019 — In 2008, the police were closing in on Ehud Olmert. Say what you want about him – he brought shame to Israel, or he was corrupt – it makes no difference.
Israelis Demonstrate For And Against Netanyahu Throughout Country: World Israel News, Nov. 23, 2019 — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s indictment has sharpened the battle lines in Israel’s already deadlocked political system and could test the loyalty of his right-wing allies, Israeli commentators said Friday.
Indictments Against Netanyahu: Where Do We Go from Here?:Israel National News, Nov. 22, 2019 — Evan Gottesman and Eli Kowaz discuss the biggest Israeli political news story of the past decade: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been indicted in three corruption cases, with charges including fraud, breach of trust, and bribery.
Israel Comes Down With the American Disease: Editorial, NY Sun, Nov. 23, 2019 — The indictment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is confirmation, were any needed, that Israel has come down with the American disease.