By James Marlow
Bibi rightly came out fighting on Tuesday night calling a press conference at the Prime Minister’s house for senior Israeli journalists as the news channels were on air for their evening shows. Some anchor-people questioned Netanyahu’s strong reaction as if to say anyone else has a right to defend themselves in public against slander accusations, but the longest serving “continuous” Prime Minister in Israel’s history should keep quiet.
For years there have been dozens of illegal police leaks about Netanyahu being indicted on corruption charges but nothing ever came of them. For too long, the majority of the newspapers and news networks in Israel have discussed so called allegations against the Prime Minister, but there was not sufficient evidence, at least according to the Attorney General to indict.
The constant media attacks against Netanyahu’s wife and children have never ceased and yet he is supposed to continue running the country in one of the most dangerous areas of the globe as if nothing has happened. It is not as if his name is the only one on the election ballot paper, unlike most other countries in the region. Netanyahu has won four elections and next year he will become Israel’s longest ever serving Prime Minister beating David Ben Gurion. The Likud, led by Bibi remains the most popular party according to opinion polls, closely followed by Yesh Atid, led by Yair Lapid.
And yet who is the number one witness if this corruption charge proceeds? The very man that lost against Netanyahu in two previous elections – Yair Lapid. Just last week Chief of Police Roni Alsheich, appeared on Channel 2 News saying he would recommend Benyamin Netanyahu stand trial on corruption charges. But since when in a true democratic society does a police chief threaten to prosecute? You either do it or you don’t. Which leads to the question what or who made Alsheich seek the news headlines on prime-time TV?
There will of course be many who say that Netanyahu did exactly the same thing when Ehud Olmert was being accused of corruption. But receiving brown envelopes full of cash from my Jerusalem neighbour at the time, Moshe Talansky, along with Olmert’s personal secretary and close associates testifying that he received bribes from property tycoons in exchange for building licences is very different. Netanyahu is being accused of receiving gifts from a business man. But heads of state and government receive gifts all the time.
In addition, the meeting between Yediot newspaper boss Arnon Mozes and Netanyahu was recorded by Netanyahu himself when he was being given the option of receiving more favourable press coverage.
The whole thing smells while others say it is an attempted revolution to remove a popular Prime Minister by slander and accusations when they cannot remove him by the election ballot box.
I don’t believe anything will come of these allegations and it remains to be seen whether the Attorney General will prosecute or not. But one thing is certain – the government is stable and no party is leaving the coalition. For those who are so desperate to remove Netanyahu from office, (and I remember their shock and horror when the result came through in 2015), wait another year when the Israeli people get to vote again and agree to abide by the majority decision.