“A prime minister steeped up to his neck in investigations doesn’t have a moral or public mandate to make such fateful decisions regarding the state of Israel.”
In 2008, that’s what Benjamin Netanyahu said about then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert when he was under investigation. Under pressure, Olmert chose to resign before he was actually indicted. Eventually he served time in prison for his offenses.
This week, after withdrawing his request for immunity for charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, Netanyahu was formally indicted in three corruption cases, the first sitting prime minister to be indicted. Netanyahu’s decision to revoke his bid for protection from prosecution in the three cases allowed Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to immediately file the formal indictment with the Jerusalem District Court.
The Israeli parliament, or Knesset, was on the verge of debating Netanyahu’s immunity request and had been expected to deny the protection from the court. A trial date can now be set, even as the March 2 election date approaches.
In his 2008 quote, Netanyahu underscored the lack of authority and support that Olmert had to proceed with his negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in an attempt to settle the long-standing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Yet, Netanyahu has headed a caretaker government for more than a year as the country has repeatedly traipsed to the polls to try to elect a new functioning government. Neither Netanyahu nor his chief competitor, Blue and White Party head Benny Gantz, have been able to cobble together a majority government after the April and September elections.
Just hours after dropping his request for immunity, Netanyahu stood next to President Donald Trump in the White House as the latter’s long-awaited vision for peace in the Middle East was announced. Both Netanyahu and Gantz, who had met with Trump the day before, pledged to support Trump’s plan which, in effect, calls for “fateful decisions” on the part of both the Palestinians and Israel.
For the first time, Trump called for a two-state solution, which some of Netanyahu’s fellow Likud party members would consider a nonstarter. The proposal also calls for a four-year settlement freeze, which Netanyahu’s right-wing supporters will oppose. On the other hand, the proposal calls Jerusalem the capital of Israel, while stating that the Palestinian capital will be in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the separation barrier that Israel has constructed in the past couple of decades.
Despite the call for a Palestinian state and settlement freeze, Republican Jewish Coalition National Chairman Norm Coleman said in a statement that “the president’s plan has great potential to bring peace and security to both Israelis and Palestinians.”
And Christians United for Israel founder and chairman Pastor John Hagee, who attended the proposal’s formal announcement at the White House, stated, “This plan …is the best peace proposal any American administration has ever put forth. The president’s vision ensures Israel’s defensible borders, a united Jerusalem, sovereignty over biblical holy sites, and provides an opportunity for the Palestinians to choose peace.”
The self-declared pro-Israel, pro-peace organization J Street stated, “The timing of this announcement, coinciding with the formal indictment of Prime Minister Netanyahu and the impeachment trial of President Trump, only underscores that it is a cynical political maneuver entirely lacking in diplomatic credibility. Coming in the midst of an Israeli election campaign, this is an attempt to hand the prime minister a political gift and a distraction from the very serious charges he is facing.”
- Jan Jaben-Eilon
- Israel news
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
- Netanyahu indictment
- Avichai Mandelblit
- Israeli Election
- 2020 Israeli Eleciton
- Third Israeli Election
- Blue and White party
- Benny Ganz
- President Donald Trump
- J Street
- Republican Jewish Coalition