Monday, 30th October 2017

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Israel's police and judiciary found more than something to indict the longest serving prime minister of Israel for bribery

  • Published 30.11.19, 9:02 PM
  • Updated 30.11.19, 9:02 PM
  • a min read
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference in Tel Aviv, Israel AP

For the longest time, Benjamin Netanyahu and his cronies kept saying: “There won’t be anything, because there wasn’t anything.” But from the looks of it, Israel's police and judiciary found more than something to indict the longest serving prime minister of Israel for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu now has three cases against him. Case 1000 has to do with him receiving gifts — cigars, pink champagne, jewellery, free flight tickets and hotel rooms, tickets to a Mariah Carey concert — from Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and billionaire James Packer in return for favours.

Two coats, good news and a telecom giant

During an investigation, Milchan even said that the first couple had asked him to buy them coats. Mr PM helped the Israel-born Milchan with visa issues and pushed through legislation that earned him tax breaks. It is not clear how Packer gained from it all. All that he himself was willing to concede is — “I love Israel.” According to Case 2000, Netanyahu struck a deal with the daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, for good coverage. What he offered was a promise to do the needful to limit circulation of the rival daily, Israel Hayom. Mr PM's version, however, is he was “testing” Arnon Mozes, the publisher. Finally, there is Case 4000, wherein Netanyahu is accused of favouring the controlling shareholder of Israeli telecommunications giant, Bezeq, to get positive coverage on his news site.

A dangerous example

Attorney general Avichai Mandelblit said in a dramatic speech at the Justice Ministry, “This is a hard and sad day… It is an obligation imposed on all of us — those who are part of law enforcement, and on me personally as the one who stands as its head... There is no man who is above the law.” Not surprisingly, Netanyahu tried to dismiss the indictment as a “coup”. What is surprising, however, is that a week after the official indictment there has been no public outcry. On the contrary, there was a pro-Netanyahu rally. The Jerusalem Post ran an editorial headlined: Where are the protests against Netanyahu? It read: “...people need to take a stand. Netanyahu is innocent until proven guilty, but by staying quiet, people are normalising alleged corruption. Israel is setting a bad and dangerous example...”

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