Israeli police have recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in connection to two corruption cases. After months of investigation, the police believe that there is enough evidence to bring charges of bribery and fraud against the leader of the nation. His wife has also been implicated in the cases.
Even before he became the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu enjoyed an illustrious career. His father was Benzion Netanyahu, a professor at Cornell University. Benjamin Netanyahu after graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), joined the Israel Defense Forces in 1967. While in the military, he participated in a number of successful missions and fought in the Yom Kippur War. His brother Yonatan Netanyahu was a widely celebrated war hero. He had commanded the elite commando unit SayeretMatkal during Operation Entebbe. Even though the operation was successful, he was killed while on duty. Benjamin Netanyahu, after a stint with the famed Boston Consulting Group, returned to Israel in 1978 to start the Yonatan Netanyahu Anti-Terror Institute.
He became Israel’s youngest Prime Minister in 1996 and served until 1999 when he lost the general elections. He moved from the political arena to the private sector for a brief period of time after that. In 2002 he became Israel’s Finance Minister and has also served as the Foreign Affairs Minister. Netanyahu presently has been elected as the Prime Minister of Israel four times - only David Ben Gurion has been elected to the office those many times. If he completes the latest term, he will become the longest serving Prime Minister in the nation’s history. Netanyahu has indicated that he plans on contesting the upcoming elections as well.
Despite his long and storied career, Netanyahu and his family have been at the centre of a number of scandals. In August 2017, the Israeli police confirmed that Netanyahu was under investigation under suspicion of having committed “fraud, breach of trust and bribes” in two corruption cases. The cases revolve around Netanyahu allegedly taking gifts from wealthy benefactors and attempting to sway media coverage. This is the first time Netanyahu has been publicly designated a suspect. Netanyahu has staunchly denied the charges and has maintained that the investigation was politically motivated. His wife has also been accused of having received lavish gifts.
There are three specific cases that deal with Benjamin Netanyahu and his family. One connects the Prime Minister to charges of corruption in an over billion-dollar deal between Israel and Germany. The second case alleges that he struck a deal with a newspaper to receive favorable coverage and the third case alleges that his wife and son received lavish gifts from wealthy businessmen.
After months of investigation into two of the cases, police have now recommended the indictment of the Israeli Prime Minister on charges of bribery and fraud. "The findings of the investigation revealed that the relationship between the Prime Minister and Mr. Milchan was a bribery relationship that amounted to a criminal offense and not an innocent relationship between friends," the police spokesman said.
Netanyahu, who has long maintained that he is innocent, once again said that the controversy will ultimately fade away. "This will end in nothing," he said defiantly after the police made their recommendations. This does not mean that the Prime Minister will be indicted. The decision on whether to bring forth charges against him or not, will be made by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. If he does get indicted, then he will be expected to appear at a closed hearing around February 2019.
Netanyahu has also stated that the investigations against him were politically motivated. "The police is infected with hallucinated allegations, the police can’t be objective," he said. "I’m sure that the attorneys will find that nothing I did was incorrect." He added, “I have acted only for the good of the country, not for cigars, not for the press coverage, only the good of the country…There is nothing — [it is] an upside-down world.”
Some prominent Israeli politicians have now begun calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister. Ehud Barak, former Israeli Prime Minister called on Netanyahu to step aside. "These are difficult and sad times," Barak said on social media. "The picture emerging from the police recommendation is chilling. The depth of corruption is staggering."
Our assessment is that Netanyahu, who is no stranger to controversy finds himself caught in a scandal that could destroy his entire legacy. Ehud Olmert, a former Israeli Prime Minister, was indicted for, fraud, breach of trust, falsifying corporate documents, and tax evasion. He was convicted of bribery and served time in prison. Will Benjamin Netanyahu, who hails from an illustrious background, follow suit?
Read more: Netanyahu’s aide testifies against him