THE NETANYAHU SITUATION

I can’t call this a scandal – yet – because neither I nor, I suspect, anyone else knows for sure whether it is one.

But what I can do is put up the beginning of Gregg Carlstrom’s article at politico.com, which very nicely sums up what is brewing in Israel right now:

For more than a year, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s scandal-plagued prime minister, has repeated a simple slogan: “There will be nothing, because there is nothing.” On Tuesday night, the Israeli police announced that there might be something, after all.

After a long probe, investigators recommended charging Netanyahu with bribery in two separate cases. In one, dubbed “Case 1000,” he allegedly received lavish gifts—cigars, champagne, tailored suits—from wealthy businessmen, in exchange for political favors. The police estimated the value of the gifts at one million shekels, or $282,000. The other (“Case 2000”) involves the publisher of Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s largest paid daily newspaper. Netanyahu is accused of colluding with the media mogul, trading favorable coverage for a law that would have helped Yediot’s bottom line. (The law was never passed.)

Now the question is: Can Netanyahu, Israel’s second longest-serving prime minister, survive?

So far, he has denied any wrongdoing. And in a televised speech on Tuesday, delivered minutes after the news broke, he vowed to stay in office. “I will continue to lead Israel responsibly and faithfully,” he said. “These recommendations mean nothing in a democratic society.”

In a sense, he is right. Under Israeli law, a minister charged with serious offenses must resign, but a prime minister does not have to. Both cases will now go to the attorney general—a Netanyahu appointee—who will decide whether to press charges, a process that could drag into next year. Netanyahu will only be forced out of office if the attorney general decides to press charges and then, after a trial, he is convicted.

With a major tip of my imaginary hat to Mr. Carlstrom, you now know what I know.

Based on what I’m reading, even if Prime Minister Netanyahu is guilty of everything he is being accused of, between the time it would take to convict him and the fact that the Attorney General is his own appointee, it seems unlikely that he will be removed from office.

My guess (keeping in mind that I certainly have been wrong before) is that Mr. Netanyahu will stay in office, but decline to run the next time an election is held.

We’ll see…….

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