The Police Case Against Bibi Netanyahu

The submarine case is in the background.
This may not be the end of him, but this is what the beginning of the end would look like.
Citizens are innocent until proven guilty, but Prime Ministers are not mere citizens. According to Israeli law, Prime Ministers need not resign unless they are convicted of a serious crime. But precedent holds that Prime Ministers should not serve if they are merely indicted—that, once indicted, they cannot both prepare a legal defense and properly do their job. In 1977, Yitzhak Rabin resigned from his first term when it was discovered that his wife, Leah, had maintained an illegal, though paltry, foreign bank account after he served as Ambassador to Washington. In 2008, Ehud Olmert announced that he would resign before being indicted for having taken bribes when he was the mayor of Jerusalem. “I will step aside properly in an honorable and responsible way, and afterwards I will prove my innocence,” Olmert said. (He was eventually exonerated on the original charges, though he served more than a year in prison after a retrial for breach of trust and witness tampering, which he denied.)

Yesterday, after a yearlong investigation, the Israeli police recommended that the Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on various counts of bribery. Netanyahu has responded with defiance, attacking the integrity of the police and implicitly exhorting Mandelblit, whom he appointed, to disregard the recommendations. “Nothing will have sway and nothing will sway me, not even the incessant attacks against me,” Netanyahu said. Indeed, his defiance has been building for some time. Last summer, as one investigation seemed to climax, Netanyahu, sounding eerily like Donald Trump, told a rally of three thousand supporters in Tel Aviv that the left and “the fake-news media” were engaged “in an obsessive, unprecedented witch hunt against me and my family.” They constituted “a massive and united chorus faintheartedly urging withdrawal from territories in our homeland.” The crowd broke out singing, “Bibi, King of Israel!” Oren Hazan, a Likud member of the Knesset, called the state prosecutor’s office “a stable that’s full of crap.”

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