Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday spent three hours of his valuable time being subjected to questioning by the Police Anti-Corruption Unit. He is suspected of illegally receiving gifts from two businessmen.
The next morning, Netanyahu wrote on Facebook that just as all previous investigations against him ended in nothing, so too will it be with this investigation. “I repeat,” he wrote, “nothing will happen because there is nothing.”
Investigations against Netanyahu, and against his wife Sara, have intensified since the last election. The so-called “Bibi Tours” case relates to Netanyahu’s time as minister of finance (2003-2005). He stood accused of not properly reporting $50,000 worth of flights paid by a foreign businessman on behalf of Sara and their sons. That case resulted in no charges being filed.
Netanyahu was also accused of receiving illegal funding for his 2005 election campaign. He responded to this suspicion by filing libel suits against Channel 10 and the daily newspaper Ma’ariv. In this 2011 suit, Netanyahu claimed that that the allegations amounted to an “orchestrated smear campaign.” He also said that this campaign was designed to force him out of office.
In 2013, another scandal broke out after it was discovered that Netanyahu’s annual ice cream budget amounted to $2,700. His wife, Sara, was also investigated by police that year for keeping thousands of shekels from recycling empty bottles.
More recently, Netanyahu was accused by that same Channel 10 of a conflict of interests in a submarine deal signed with Germany. Netanyahu’s personal lawyer also represented the German shipyard. This affair, too, died as quickly as it started.
This short list of the different allegations against Netanyahu and his wife, all of which have thus far come to nothing, supports the prime minister’s claim that there is indeed an orchestrated smear campaign aimed at forcing him out of office.
Journalist Amnon Lord, a supporter of Netanyahu, reminded his readers what respected jurist Prof. Ruth Gabizon said a few months ago. She defined these clouds of investigations as a legal war of attrition, a strategy to overthrow Netanyahu.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) inadvertently supported this assertion just days ago when he insisted that a prime minister can’t adequately fulfill his duties while facing so many investigations.
Herzog unintentionally exposed the strategy behind the endless suspicions and interrogations. Their primary role is not so much to indict Netanyahu, but to roll him in tar and feathers long enough to render him dysfunctional.
A Facebook poster from the radical liberal Molad Center also points to this strategy by quoting what Netanyahu said in 2008 about then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: “A prime minister inundated with investigations does not have the public mandate to decide on crucial matters since there is a real fear that he will base his decisions on personal, rather than national interests.”
Reading some of the comments to Netanyahu’s post assuring everyone that nothing will come out of this investigation, it is pretty clear that by now the scheme to overthrow the prime minister is in full swing.
One comment in particular caught my eye because it captures the mood of so many in Israel. The poster says: “If they succeed in their attempt to remove you, I swear I will vote for the Likud Party even if they nominate a cat in your place.”
It’s safe to say that meddling with democracy inevitably backfires on those who plot to overthrow their elected leaders.