Middle East

Netanyahu clings to power as corruption cases loom

Netanyahu does not resign facing graft charges but decides to run for third term

Aness Suheil Barghoti   | 04.01.2020
Netanyahu clings to power as corruption cases loom

JERUSALEM 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became the first leader in his country's history to be accused of corruption during his tenure.

Netanyahu, however, unlike former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, did not resign when faced with formal corruption cases. He rather decided to go head first against the attorney general's decision and run for another term.

Ten years ago, Netanyahu, a prime minister immersed in allegations of corruption, had no "public or moral mandate to make fateful decisions for the state of Israel."

The Jerusalem Post reported that Netanyahu informed associates he would not repeat the mistakes of Olmert nor allow early primaries in his Likud Party to choose a successor.

According to Palestinian political analyst Anton Shalhat, Netanyahu's decision not to step down is based on two main factors.
The first is his 10-year alliance with media and venture capitalists in Israel.

"Netanyahu is a charismatic figure in Israeli society and he used this feature to forge alliances with influential people that helped him remain in his position for such a long time," Shalhat told Anadolu Agency.

In the past 10 years, the analyst said, "Netanyahu was able to build a circle of an alliance in the Israeli media that would defend him against anyone and anything."

The second is more important and is that Netanyahu's ability to change the popular metaphor of Israeli society.

According to Shalhat, on the one hand, Netanyahu strengthened the rule of the Israeli right, particularly settlers, securing hundreds of thousands of voters.

"On the second hand, Netanyahu opened the Israeli market to foreign investment and during his rule, the state witnessed economic growth," he said.

"Unlike Olmert, who was weak and did not have a popular base, Netanyahu has the support of half of Israeli society and the media and the capitalists," he said.

"He believes that he can keep the prime minister’s portfolio even if he defies the standards that have controlled political life in Israel since its establishment," Shalhat said.

Last November, Netanyahu was accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three corruption cases.

In the first known as "Case 1000", Israeli Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan was allegedly asked to purchase luxury items for Netanyahu and his wife.

The Israeli prime minister was charged with breach of public trust and fraud. Prosecutors claim from 2007 to 2016, Netanyahu received $283,000 worth of gifts from Milchan and other wealthy businessmen to advance their interests.

In "Case 2000", Netanyahu allegedly asked for positive coverage from Arnon Mozes, publisher of the prominent Hebrew language daily Yedioth Ahronoth, in exchange for help in reigning in a rival publication. Netanyahu was charged with breach of public trust and fraud.

And in "Case 4000", Netanyahu was charged with bribery for allegedly granting regulatory benefits to the Israeli telecom company, Bezeq, in return for favorable coverage of him and his wife on a news website owned by the company. The indictment centers on suspicions that Netanyahu confidants promoted regulations worth hundreds of millions of dollars for the company.

Jalal Rumaneh, another expert on Israeli affairs also believes Netanyahu was able to control Israel by intimidation, by keeping the public surrounded by fear of internal or external threats.

For more than a decade Netanyahu, 70, dominated Israel’s media, economy, high tech investments and social media platforms and was able to direct public opinion.

"The absence of another leader who can unite the right-wing parties in Israel makes it hard to replace Netanyahu at the moment by his right-wing allies or the people supporting them," Rumaneh said.

"This fact gives what makes Netanyahu believes that he can remain as prime minister of Israel for many years to come," he said.

According to Rumaneh, It is too soon to proclaim the end of the Netanyahu era. "But it may be the beginning of the end," he added.

Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.
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