Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might not be fighting only for his current job. He might be fighting for his personal freedom.
Netanyahu already faces indictment on charges of bribery and corruption. But his political opponents are suggesting that those could be expanded to charges of treason. They would almost certainly make such a move were Netanyahu to lose the election, in which case some rivals would seek to drive the final nail in the coffin of Likud's political dominance. Without Bibi at the helm, the party would be unlikely to attract so many right-wing voters in future elections.
The threat at hand relates to Case 3000, in which Netanyahu and a number of his associates stand accused of accepting financial kick-backs in return for pushing through a deal for the state to purchase billions of shekels worth of submarines from German shipbuilder Thyssenkrupp.
Netanyahu has called the accusations "contrived," and stressed that investigators have not found any evidence directly linking him to any wrongdoing. "I didn't get a shekel from the submarine deal," the prime minister said this week.
But the heads of the front-running "Blue and White" party are calling Case 3000 "the greatest security-related corruption case in the history of the State of Israel."
Moshe Ya'alon, who is third on the Blue and White list and likely to become minister of defense if the party wins the election on April 9, went so far as to tell Israel Radio that "this issue is so important that it could even amount to treason."
Likud officials immediately shot back, saying that Ya'alon had "crossed a line" by employing a "blood libel" against Netanyahu. "The use of the term 'traitor' against the prime minister dangerously crosses a red line," read the party's statement.
Indeed, left-wing elements often accuse Netanyahu and the right of having incited personal enmity against former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin prior to his assassination. And yet, they seem to have little problem with doing the same to Bibi.