In the end, Israelis were left with the pathetic spectacle of watching their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, attacking the prosecutors who indicted him. The right-wing leader, who had become a permanent presence on the Israeli political scene, is now a defendant facing criminal charges, waiting for his trial to commence. Charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust mean that the veteran extremist leader faces a possible jail term of up to 16 years. Acting like other populists, Netanyahu has asked his supporters to take to the streets, in a move that could further increase political instability in a country that has already had two general elections this year and may soon be headed for a third. He has also gone further, asking for an “investigation into the investigators”. He has denied all wrongdoing and said the indictment was an attempted coup.
These comments are to be seen in the context of similar ones in other countries that have populist, right-wing governments, in which embattled leaders lash out at the judiciary and the media.
Such is the hold Netanyahu has over his right-wing Likud party that only two members have suggested a search for a new leader. Both were snubbed.
Under Israeli law, Netanyahu is not obliged to step down as prime minister. But, given that the country is most likely headed for elections, he may find it difficult, if not impossible, to win an election while preparing his legal defence. Also, it is unclear if a politician who has been indicted could be given the mandate to form a new government.
Such is the hold Netanyahu has over his right-wing Likud party that only two members have suggested a search for a new leader. Both were snubbed. There are many who believe Netanyahu has become a liability and should resign, but they are afraid to come out publicly.
Palestinians in the Occupied Territories will be watching the proceedings in Israel with some interest. They have borne the brunt of Netanyahu’s racism, and his barbaric policies over the past 10 years have inflicted on the Palestinians brutal wars and an inhumane blockade in Gaza, an unprecedented expansion of Jewish colonies in the occupied West Bank, and the disappearance of any real prospects of an independent Palestinian state. For them, Netanyahu’s long reign in Israel has brought nothing but disaster. However, tragically, whoever replaces Netanyahu is likely to adopt the same policies. When it comes to Palestine, sadly there seems to be an unified stance in Israel. Whoever is at the helm, the regime in Tel Aviv will continue to execute the same savage policies.