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Benjamin Netanyahu Caught Up in a Storm of Corruption

Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, is now involved in four ongoing corruption investigations. The Israeli police now say that they have enough evidence to indict him in two cases, reported The Washington Post.

Netanyahu has been in Israeli politics since 1988, serving as prime minister for a total of 12 non-consecutive years. He entered politics as a member of the Likud (The Consolidation) Party, a conservative Zionist party, and is no stranger to controversy.

This is particularly true in his handling of foreign policy and Palestinians under Israeli control.

In 2010, according to CNN, Netanyahu approved a raid on a Turkish aid flotilla to Gaza, which resulted in the death of several Turkish citizens. In 2015 at the World Zionist Congress, Netanyahu said, according to The New York Times, that Hitler was convinced to carry out the Holocaust by a Palestinian, and, according to The Washington Post, also warned that Palestinians were “voting in droves” to remove his party from power. Also in 2015, Netanyahu gave a speech in the U.S. House of Representatives criticizing the Iran peace deal President Obama was negotiating.

In January of this year a recording of Netanyahu’s son, Yair Netanyahu, according to Haaretz, was released by The Israel Television News Company; in it, he bragged about his father pushing through a multibillion-dollar bill that would benefit his friend’s father. He said, “My dad arranged $20 billion for your dad, and you’re whining with me about 400 shekels [borrowed for a prostitute].”

In response to this recording, Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesperson stated, “We have no intention of addressing the cheap and malicious gossip regarding snippets of jokes.”

This pattern has continued with a myriad of new corruption allegations. There are four cases that the public knows of associated with Netanyahu.

The first investigation targeting Netanyahu involves him accepting about $280,000 in gifts from men seeking visas. According to Reuters, law enforcement officials allege that in exchange for these gifts Netanyahu lobbied the government to allow these millionaires legal status to live in the country.

According to Reuters, the second investigation implicates Netanyahu in collusion with the media. According to the Israeli police force, the prime minister met with the owner of the second largest newspaper in Israel, Yedioth Ahronoth (Latest News), and allegedly offered to sabotage the distribution of their chief rival, Israel Hayom (Israel Today). In exchange for this, he was to be given favorable coverage in Yedioth Ahronoth. Both men confirm that the meeting occurred but claim that they were each attempting to expose the other’s corruption.

In the third investigation, Netanyahu has not been named a suspect, but his confidants have. The Times of Israel reports that so far five of his associates have been arrested for alleged corruption and fraud related to the purchase of a German submarine.

The fourth case involves another of Netanyahu’s associates. Shlomo Filber, director general of Israel’s communications ministry, is alleged to have given favorable treatment to the telecommunication company Bezeq, according to The New York Times. Officials have arrested Filber, his wife, his son and executives from Bezeq.

The New York Times reports that in a recent move Shlomo Filber has allegedly agreed to give investigators evidence that Netanyahu gave him orders to treat Bezeq preferentially. This could lead to Netanyahu being charged in this case as well.

Despite the corruption cases surrounding Netanyahu, he has given no implication that he is stepping down. In fact, he has attacked the media and called the investigations “a witch hunt,” according to The Independent.

Netanyahu has actually been accused of leveraging his political power to end the investigations. The police commissioner of Israel claimed that “powerful people” were trying to derail the Netanyahu cases; the prime minister has also been accused of hiring private investigators to look into the detectives put on his case.

Haaretz reports that Netanyahu’s attacks continued when he stated that “Any decent person would ask himself how people who say such delusional things about the prime minister can objectively investigate him and give impartial recommendations.

If Netanyahu is found guilty in a court of law, it would have a significant impact in Israel and throughout the world. According to Hebrew University law professor Barak Medina, “[I]f all the information comes out, and the police recommend he be charged with a serious crime, it is unlikely he will be able to carry on in his job.” If Netanyahu could not carry out his job, it is not inconceivable that another party could come into power.

This political turbulence would be bad timing for President Trump who, according to The New York Times, is currently planning to move the United States embassy to Jerusalem and negotiate peace between Israel and Palestine.

Through all of this, The Times of Israel reports that if elections were called he would be re-elected. However, even though he is apparently fairing this political storm, it is unclear if he can maintain his current approval ratings.

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