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Corruption charges haunt Netanyahu’s presidential future

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The political future of Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is questionable in the backdrop of corruption charges against him. He is currently 68 years old and has been enjoying his office since 2009. He has been accused of awarding favors to Bezeq Telecom in return for favorable coverage on a new’s site the company’s owner controls. It is quite interesting that the police recommended charging Netanyahu, but prosecutors declined to file charges. African and Middle Eastern countries have scored very low in the Corruptions Perceptions Index 2017; the index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople. Isreal was ranked at 32.

This is the fourth corruption scandal engulfing Netanyahu. After Netanyahu was investigated over corruption charges,  the police started to investigate on two other cases of corruption, which led to the arrest of seven close associates of Netanyahu on various charges including obstruction of justice, fraud and breach of trust. Prominent among those arrested on Sunday were Nir Hafetz, the former family spokesperson of Netanyahu and Shaul Elovitch, and a multi-millionaire who owns Bezeq, one of the largest telecom companies in Israel. Elovitch is also considered close to the prime minister.

There have been several charges against Netanyahu

 Case 1000, also known as “gifts affair”,  in which he is alleged for accepting gifts (champagne, cigars, jewelry and clothing) from Arnon Milchan, an Israeli billionaire and Hollywood film producer in order to lobby for “John Kerry” on behalf of Milchan for a 10-year US visa. He has also accepted gifts from wealthy Australian billionaire, James Packer as he tried to gain permanent residency and tax status in Israel. The cost of these gifts is estimated to be around $280,000.

The only woman head of state in Africa, President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim resigned after becoming embroiled in a financial scandal. Similarly Otto Perez Molina, the president of Guatemala, resigned over corruption allegations in February of this year. Will Netanyahu follow suit?

Case 2,000 is about corruption charges against a deal which he has done with Israel’s second largest newspaper, “Yedioth Ahronoth” to show a positive coverage in order to stay in power in future. The owner of newspaper, Arnon Mozesis was supposed to promote legislation to end the free distribution of “Israel Hayom”.

Case 3000, Netanyahu is indirectly alleged for corruption in buying German submarines and naval attack vessels worth of $2 billion, more than need of national defense. According to the investigation, his cousin and personal lawyer David Shimron are involved in this case. David Sharan, Netanyahu’s former bureau chief, was arrested on suspicion of accepting bribes as well as lobbying Israeli defence ministry officials.

Read more: Israel took out Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007: Benjamin Netanyahu

Case 4000, the current case; Netanyahu’s associate Shlomo Filber, director-general of Israel’s communications ministry, is accused of providing Bezeq, the national telephone company, with favorable treatment. PM is indirectly involved in this case. The report also said that Netanyahu did not disclose his friendship with Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of Bezeq. The case 3000 and case 4000 would determine the political future of Netanyahu because Netanyahu’s close associates have been arrested.

Shaul Elovitch, a family friend of Netanyahu, Nir Hefetz, former Netanyahu spokesman, and Shlomo Filber, former communications ministry director-general, both known as close were also arrested. According to Haaretz, Schlomo Filber has agreed to turn state’s witness admitting to have received explicit instructions from Netanyahu to help Bezeq. This could pose a serious threat to the leader’s political survival.

African and Middle Eastern countries have scored very low in the Corruptions Perceptions Index 2017; the index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople. Isreal was ranked at 32.

The Police have questioned twice, Netanyahu over his alleged dealings with the Bezeq case, Israel Radio in the month of March. The public and the opponents of Israel are enhancing pressure on Netanyahu to leave the office but he is committed to contest the next election in 2019. His party’s loyalists want to keep him into power. The only possibility of his removal in the backdrop above mentioned corruption charges if his loyal testify against him.

The world has seen the example of South African’ former President South African controversial President Jacob Zuma’s resignation. He resigned within two weeks of intense pressure from his party to step down on February 14, 2018. He resigned after 9 years of his presidency. African National Congress lawmakers have lobbied for a planned no-confidence vote for his removal. The party has lost ground in recent elections, largely due to Zuma’s growing unpopularity.

Read more: Netanyahu’s friend agrees to testify against him on corruption probe

Mauritian, the only woman head of state in Africa, President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim resigned after becoming embroiled in a financial scandal. Similarly Otto Perez Molina, the president of Guatemala, resigned over corruption allegations in February of this year. Will Netanyahu follow suit?

Netanyahu is also facing the same unpopularity and allegations but he is confident of continuing till 2019, when the next general elections will be conducted. “I can reassure you that the coalition is stable. Neither I nor anyone else has plans for elections. We’re going to continue to work together for the good of Israeli citizens until the end of the term.” He is expected to visit the United States in March where he may meet with the US President Donald Trump in order to find some sort support for winning the next elections. The investigations are going on but he is not convicted yet.

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