By: Ashley Levi
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently come under fire after multiple allegations and charges have been brought forth by Israeli police alleging fraud, corruption, and bribery. Netanyahu, who has held the position of Israeli Prime Minister for over 10 years, spanning from 1996 to 1999, and 2009 to the present, has been under investigation since January of 2017 by Israeli police prompted to search for evidence to indict the leader. The Prime Minister is no stranger to doubts about his integrity as a leader, as his political career has been accompanied by many corruption accusations and scandals in 1997, 1999, and 2014. This week, he is being charged with three cases all involving bribery in a “gifts-for-favors” exchange, with favorable coverage often being the primary motive.
The first case he is being charged with is referred to as Case 1000, which documents a bribery case of “gifts-for-favors”, accusing him of accepting almost $300,000 or 100 million shekels in bribes and gifts since 2009. This case has prompted Israeli police to recommend that the Prime Minister be charged under the acts of bribery, breach of trust, and fraud.
Secondly, he is being charged with Case 2000, that refers to backroom dealings with Arnon Mozes. Mozes is the publisher of a popular Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, who Netanyahu allegedly paid in exchange for favorable coverage in Mozes ’media outlet.
The third case being charges is Case 4000, the Bezeq affair. In this case, Mr. Netanyahu paid Shaul Elovitch, a controlling shareholder of the Bezeq company for more positive news coverage. Elovitch owns Walla, a news site that is owned by the Bezeq company as well.
Among the charges that are directly tied to the Prime Minister, another charge, a case 3000, also tarnishes the remaining reputation of the administration. In this case, some of Netanyahu’s closest confidants are suspected of being involved with a multi-billion dollar purchase of submarines and other maritime vessels from a German shipyard. Moreover, Mr. Netanyahu’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, is facing legal action against her in another 4000-level case. She has been accused of a misuse of public funds, spending $100,000 on catering and other items in the Netanyahu residence. Although indirectly related to the Prime Minister, these two cases are yet another obstacle to any defense Mr. Netanyahu may provide for the misconduct.
Conversely, Netanyahu has responded to these charges and claims with a calm demeanor, denying all claims, even going so far to say, “I feel confident that nothing will come of it.” As a seasoned politician, he has faced many accusations and charges with little to no consequence.
On March 2nd, police began their investigation on Netanyahu by questioning him in his official residence, while his wife was simultaneously questioned at a national fraud headquarters near Tel Aviv. Elovitch, the Bezeq shareholder, was also questioned at the time, delving further into the 4000-level case.
All of this dawns on the eve of the Prime Minister’s visit to the US. His arrival in the United States marks a continuation of the American-Israeli alliance, especially as the Prime Minister and President Trump solidify a relationship, focusing on topics such as the embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the Iranian offense towards Israel. Many speculate that the Prime Minister will use his visit to the White House as well as an appearance at AIPAC, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, to draw attention away from his scandal and toward his progress in office.