Israeli Media Hypes Mounting Corruption Charges Against Netanyahu, Associates
Netanyahu seen to be facing the most serious threat to his premiership in years
In the absence of serious conflict with Arab foes, Israelis have a tendency to turn on one another. At present, there's something of a feeding frenzy aimed at stripping away what's perceived as the last vestiges of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's legitimacy.
Netanyahu is currently embroiled in a corruption scandal involving the purchase of German submarines. On Sunday, two of his closest associates were grilled by police anti-corruption investigators for no less than 15 hours.
The Times of Israel reports:
While police did not reveal the identities of the two, multiple reports named one of them as David Shimron, Netanyahu’s cousin and personal lawyer, and said the second was also an attorney who is considered close to the prime minister.
Shimron has already been questioned several times as part of the investigation by Lahav 433, the police anti-corruption unit. He served as a lawyer for Miki Ganor, the local representative of German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp, who turned state’s witness in July and is considered a key suspect in the case.
Netanyahu himself is not a suspect in what's known as "Case 3000," but local media portrayed the story as though he is, highlighting the fact that the prime minister is himself likely to compelled to provide testimony upon his return to the country.
An unnamed official from Netanyahu's Likud party called the media hype nothing more than propaganda and a mockery of justice.
"What value is there to the legal process when it is conducted entirely in the pages of newspapers and in the TV studios, through illegal and tendentious leaks?" the official asked in remarks to Israel National News.
However, Netanyahu is a suspect in two separate corruption cases, Case 1000 and Case 2000, and will, indeed, be questioned by police in the near future.
Case 1000, which also involves Netanyahu's wife, Sara, sees the couple accused of receiving illicit gifts from wealthy benefactors. Most of those gifts have taken the form of cigars (which Netanyahu is known to love) and champagne.
Many Israelis see Case 1000 as frivolous.
Case 2000, on the other hand, is much more serious. Netanyahu is suspected of making an underhanded deal with Israel's best-selling daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, for more favorable coverage in return for weakening the paper's chief rival, the free daily Israel Hayom.
Yediot is generally unfriendly toward Netanyahu in its editorials, while Israel Hayom is owned by the prime minister's close friend, American Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
If the allegations hold true, they would constitute a gross abuse of the free press.