Israel's Netanyahu Faces Growing Legal Pressures - Here's Why

10 August, 2017, 00:41 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Protesters backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu show their support outside the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in Petah Tikva

An Israeli court recently said that the two cases involved "suspicion of the commission of the felonies of bribery, fraud and breach of trust", but did not specify who might be charged for the crimes.

The Netanyahu family issued the following response: "Yair Netanyahu [the eldest son] is vegetarian, Avner [the younger son] and Mrs. Netanyahu nearly never eat meat, and the prime minister does not consume food worth thousands of shekels from a steak house".

While Netanyahu has dismissed the latest charges as a "political witch hunt", his critics are predicting that this is the beginning of the end of his reign, which, if he serves his full tenure in office, would make him Israel's longest-serving prime minister, surpassing David Ben-Gurion, who served 13 years. After months of questioning witnesses in at least four separate cases, Israeli police this month signed a plea bargain with Netanyahu's former chief of staff, Ari Harow, who will now aid the probes.

"The left and the media, and they're the same thing, you know, they are mustering an obsessive, unprecedented hunt against me and my family to carry out a regime change", he said.

The investigations have stirred speculation that Netanyahu may be forced to step down.

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The Likud party is reportedly planning a support rally for Netanyahu, set to take place next week in Tel Aviv.

A liberal Israeli think tank has filed a lawsuit against the son of the prime minister for a Facebook post it claims is libelous.

Likud MK Oren Hazan told The Times of Israel that the rally is "to show support for Netanyahu and not to attack anyone specific [ally], but we need to understand that there are serious problems with the state prosecution".

Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing.

Netanyahu's primary potential heir, Cabinet minister Yisrael Katz, has said he will attend the event and is expected to offer broad backing. Israel Hayom and Adelson are both seen as supportive of Netanyahu.

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Avraham Diskin, a political scientist at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, said there is no immediate threat and the goal of Wednesday's rally was to quash any thoughts of trying to challenge him.

Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid said the pro-Netanyahu rally "crossed all lines". "He's conveying that he is still powerful and everyone should keep their knives holstered".

But now the allegations have turned more bitter: The Likud party leader is accused of receiving gifts from wealthy benefactors as well as trying to strike a deal with the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth, one of Israel's leading dailies, for positive coverage in exchange for legislative curbs against its main competitor Israel Hayom.

Netanyahu, who last won an election in 2015, has weathered several scandals and police inquiries during his 11 years in office.

In June, Mr Packer reportedly agreed to be questioned by Israeli police as part of the corruption investigation into Netanyahu.

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A third investigation, "File 3000", relates to a possible conflict of interests involving the purchase of German submarines, in which Netanyahu's cousin and personal attorney represented the German firm involved in the deal.

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