Another Netanyahu Ally Turns State's Witness, Opposition Prepares for Elections

Another Netanyahu Ally Turns State’s Witness, Opposition Prepares for Elections

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Tel Aviv (GPA– The walls are closing in on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the Attorney General weighs the possibility of an indictment for corruption charges.

Over the past several weeks, the multiple corruption probes against Benjamin Netanyahu have reached a new stage following the recommendation by Israeli police that the Attorney General criminally charge the Prime Minister.

israeli police indicting netanyahu corruption
Benjamin Netanyahu
Image: Wikimedia Commons

There are currently four corruption cases open against Netanyahu which include:

  • Case 1000: The case known as 1,000 involves alleged illegal gifts from business executives and Netanyahu supporters received by the Prime Minister and his family. The gifts are said to range from minor items like cigars, haircuts, and champagne to bigger ticket bribes like hotel rooms and flights on private jets.
  • Case 2000: Case 2,000 involves conversations between Netanyahu and Arnon Mozes, the owner of one of Israel’s largest newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth. Apparently, Netanyahu asked Ahronoth for more favorable coverage, and in exchange Netanyahu would change government policies that gave an unfair advantage to a competing free paper owned by US billionaire, and Bibi supporter, Sheldon Adelson.

Related: Former Netanyahu Aide Turns State’s Witness in (Both) Corruption Cases

  • Case 3000: The third case revolves around a planned submarine purchase between Israel and German manufacturer ThyssenKrupp. One person lobbying for these deals to go forward was Netanyahu’s lawyer (and cousin) David Shimron, who is alleged to have stood to personally make $9m if the purchase went forward.
  • Case 4000: Known as the ‘Bezeq Case,’ Case 4000 is another case alleging that Netanyahu engaged in bribery in exchange for favorable media coverage from Shaul Elovitch, the majority shareholder of Bezeq media.

The latest developments in these cases came this week following the arrest of several top Bezeq executives as well as the Netanyahu-appointed Communications Minister, Shlomo Filber. The arrests occurred on Sunday morning and as of Tuesday, it was confirmed that Filber had turned State’s witness, meaning he will be helping build the case against Netanyahu.

The latest speculation is that Netanyahu’s next attempt to stay in power may be to rally his base before charges can be filed and call to move up the 2019 election to later this year. While it could possibly take years for the AG to finalize any official charges against Netanyahu, the opposition still believes this is likely to be their best shot at Netanyahu.

Yet there are still other machinations in the works that Netanyahu may be planning to utilize in the future. One possible insurance policy is the bill drafted by the Prime Minister’s Likud Party late last year that would exempt Netanyahu’s office from criminal investigation.

Related: Netanyahu’s Likud Party Drafts Bill to Protect PMs From Criminal Investigations

While the bill would not apply retroactively to Netanyahu, it is possible that, if it were to pass, it could be enacted before the snap elections and would then exempt Netanyahu in his next term. While it remains to be seen if Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, a former Cabinet Secretary to (and promoted by) Netanyahu, will press charges but he is likely to face a smear campaign from Bibi and his allies much like Israel’s Cheif of Police has been.