Netanyahu under attack
August 10, 2017 | Expert Insights
Opposition leaders in Israel have harshly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for undermining democracy and acting like a “dictator”.
Netanyahu is currently under investigation on charges of corruption.
Netanyahu assumed office as the Prime Minister in March 2009. He is the first Israeli PM to have been born in the country. In 1996, he became the youngest person to have ever been elected as the Prime Minister of Israel. He has also served as the Finance Minister between 2002 and 2005. He is the first person, since Ben Gurion, to have be elected as the Prime Minister for a third term.
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.
Reports have emerged that Netanyahu’s wife will be indicted. The country’s Attorney General is expected to indict Sara Netanyahu for allegedly misusing public funds for personal expenses.
In the midst of the scandal, Netanyahu held a rally for his base. During his speech, he slammed the media for sensationalizing the news and the Israeli left-wing for trying to “topple” him. He said, “They know they can’t win at the ballot box, so they are trying to bypass democracy and to bring us down without elections.”
Opposition leaders have since criticized the Prime Minister for his rhetoric. Zionist Union MK Yoel Hasson said that Netanyahu’s speech was similar to the tone struck by dictators. He noted, “Israeli citizens this evening saw a speech by a dictator. Netanyahu launched a hunt against those who did not vote for him, and he will pursue them until he completes his ambition — a dictatorship in which Netanyahu’s flag replaces the flag of the State of Israel.” Netanyahu was also accused of undermining democracy in his speech. MK Tzipi Livni took to Facebook writing, “there is a huge problem with the orchestrated attack on law enforcement agencies.”
Our assessment is that the latest scandal has provided the opposition in Israel enough ammunition to mount an effective attack on Netanyahu. It could be months or longer before concrete details begin emerging from the police investigation. However, in the meantime, opposition leaders could use that period to call for fresh elections.