The Attorney General of Israel just indicted Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahoo in three cases. The announcement comes at a time of political stalemate. It might help to resolve it.
Israel had two parliament elections this year which both ended in a political stalemate. Neither Prime Minister Netanyahoo of the Likud Party nor Blue and White coalition leader Benny Gantz managed to form a government. Both were unable to find enough additional votes to form a coalition and to gain a majority.
Now the parliament has 21 days to find a majority. It will likely fail and a third election seems inevitable.
It is curious that Israel’s Attorney General used this point in time to finally charge Netanyahoo:
Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit announced Thursday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be charged with bribery, fraud and breach in three corruption cases, dubbed Cases 4000, 2000 and 1000.
In the most serious case Netanyahoo is alleged to have changed regulations in exchange for more positive press coverage:
Case 4000 is considered the most serious, and revolves around an alleged bribery deal between Netanyahu and businessman Shaul Elovich, who controlled the Bezeq telecommunications company and the Walla News site. According to the indictment, Netanyahu and Elovich engaged in a quid-pro-pro deal in which Netanyahu – as communication minister – led regulatory steps directly tied to Elovich’s businesses and interests that yielded the tycoon some $500 million.
In return, according to the indictment, Netanyahu and his wife Sara made consistent requests to alter the coverage on the Walla News website in order to serve the Netanyahus’ interests and target their opponents. Elovich allegedly pressed the editors of the website to comply with the Netanyahus’ demands.
Walla publisher Elovich as well as Arnon Mozes, publisher of the Yedioth Ahronot media group, will also be indicted for bribery.
The charges have been known for quite some time and the timing of the official announcement seems political.
Netanyahoo will now come under intense pressure to resign. It is very much his personality that blocked the forming of a new government. Should he be removed over the next 21 days it might be possible for the parliament to form a government and to avoid a third election.
But Netanyahoo will fight tooth and nail to gain and keep immunity. He will try to delegitimize the judicative and he will use any available trick to stay in office.
That makes him even more dangerous than he usually is.
He might even decide to something, like starting a big war, to prevent his removal from power.
Lebanon, Syria and Iran must watch out.