Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to be indicted just before elections

ISraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu/Image: New York Times

On Thursday, Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit decided to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges. The decision was taken based on several years of investigation into the alleged charges on Prime Minister Netanyahu. Before being appointed as Attorney General by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Avichai Mendelblit served as Cabinet Secretary from 2013-16 under Netanyahu government. Surprisingly, it is seen by many as the move to influence the elections which are due in the first week of April this year.

Corruption Charges: Background

In 1997, Prime Minister Netanyahu then serving his first term was recommended by Israeli Police to be indicted for breach of public trust. Then the Attorney General considered it a weak case to go for a trial, so he was not indicted. But the case tarnished Netanyahu’s public image and led to his loss in 1999 Israel’s elections. Times have changed now, Prime Minister Netanyahu is running for his fourth consecutive term. In Nov 2018, the Haaretz reported that around 76 per cent of Israelis were dissatisfied with Netanyahu’s performance in Gaza crisis but still Netanyahu’s party will get 29 seats. It shows that Israelis are ready to keep him in power for some more time.

Officially the Israeli Police started investigating into various alleged cases involving Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2016. Among the several alleged scandals, there are three of the cases in which Netanyahu has been indicted by the Attorney General. The first case ‘Case 1000 looked into valuable gifts received by Netanyahu from several wealthy acquaintances of his family such as Hollywood Mogul Archan Milchan, in return for political favours. The second one, ‘Case 2000’ involves favourable coverage in return for legislation against Yedioth’s major competitor, Israel Hayom. The final one, ‘Case 4000’ alleges that Netanyahu took steps which benefited Bezeq’s owner in return for his favourable coverage. Prime Minister Netanyahu has long maintained his innocence and called all the allegations as baseless. He has reiterated that these are evil designs of left-leaning parties in Israel to oust him from power.  

Though the Attorney General has decided to indict the Prime Minister, it is not his final decision on the indictment. Even if Netanyahu is indicted, it would take a lot of time which would involve several hearings to come to final decision. It is unique for Israel that they would be going into elections next month with one of the candidates going to be indicted. That is why we may see a change of public opinion in the upcoming weeks leading to the elections. It may lead to a situation where Israeli Knesset becomes a hung assembly leading to a weak government.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Utkal Tripathy

Utkal Tripathy is a Former Research Intern at The Kootneeti. (Feb - March 2019). He can be reached at

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