Netanyahu's coalition government was hanging on to rule by a one-seat majority, nearly losing power after the threat of early elections. While the Prime Minster survived, growing corruption allegations against him may unseat him.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to cling to power, after the threat of a ‘snap-election’ that would have been triggered by the withdrawal of the Jewish Home Party from a majority coalition government that he held by one seat.
At the last minute, Israeli Education Minister Naftalli Bennet of the Jewish Home party dropped his threat, and declared that he would “stand by the prime minister’s side”.
“We are in one of the most complex security situations and during a period like this, you don't topple a government. During a period like this you don't go to elections," said Netanyahu.
The Jewish Home Party has eight seats in the Knesset and their withdrawal would have meant the loss of Netanyahu’s majority in the parliament.
This comes one day after Netanyahu took on the position of Defense Minister, following the resignation of Avigdor Lieberman; a post that was sought by Bennet himself.
Following Lieberman’s resignation, all members of his party also quit Netanyahu’s coalition, leaving the Prime Minister with a one-seat majority
Liberman resigned publicly to protest a ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel, following heavy exchanges of rockets over the last week.
While Netanyahu’s coalition government has come back from the brink of collapse, it has not resolved the underlying struggle over the defence portfolio now assumed by Netanyahu as both Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, giving him sweeping powers.
Israel’s governments remain in power for four years, and by law, Netanyahu must call for elections by November 2019.
But Netanyahu is not in the clear, as years of corruption indictments may potentially eliminate him from any possibility for future re-election. If anything, he’s established a reputation for himself as a survivalist.
“He’s a magician. He’s a magician,” chant Likud party members at his events.
“Netanyahu the magician pulled a rabbit out of his hat,” commented Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, regarding the Prime Minister’s avoidance of a snap election.
Netanyahu however, only avoided the snap election by vowing to make changes and swaying Education Minister Bennett back to his side, though they remain opposed over the defence portfolio. Kahlon however, was the one who called for an early election and hasn’t backed down yet.
Only a day before the political u-turn, Israeli police announced that they were ready to submit recommendations to the Public Prosecutor’s Office over allegations of corruption against Netanyahu that could have far-reaching implications for him.
Israeli Channel 10 news reported that a third open case will be recommended for the prosecution against Netanyahu, which is set to include Sara Netanyahu, his wife.
Here are the standing cases against him.
1) Case 1000
The Prime Minister is suspected of accepting gifts of cigars, champagne and jewellery from Israeli producer Arnon Milchan and business tycoon James Packer with an estimated value of hundreds of thousands of shekels.
More recently, allegations that the relationship was mutual have been mounting, with Netanyahu accused of acting on Milchan’s behalf and interest in the Israeli telecommunications industry.
Police have pointed to the conflict of interest and uncovered the use of couriers and code words to keep the exchanges under wraps.
2) Case 2000
Israeli police claim to have tapes showing negotiations between Netanyahu and Arnon Mozes, Yedioth publisher, to make daily coverage more positive towards the Prime Minister.
In exchange, he would restore Yedioth’s rankings in Israeli media, by pushing for legislation that would corner Israel Hayom, an independent newspaper owned by American Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.
3) Case 3000
In a major defence scandal involving German submarine purchases, a number of arrests have been made with those in custody preparing to testify.
Netenyahu’s lawyer David Shimron, represented the German company in Israel. This would constitute a major conflict of interest.
Netanyahu and Shimron both put pressure on having the deal passed, to eliminate the bidding process altogether and give the contract to the German company until the Israeli Ministry of Defence opposed it.
The alleged corruption extends to a suspect who Netanyahu appointed to the National Security Council.
4) Case 4000
Netanyahu was accused of allegedly making a deal with telecom giant Bezeq communications offering financial concessions in return for positive coverage on his website Walla. The deal allegedly saw Bezeq earn hundreds of millions of dollars throughout Netanyahu’s tenure as Minister of Communication.
Netanyahu further made false statements twice on the case.
This comes on top of at least eight other scandals and allegations of corruption that Netanyahu has since avoided, some of which prosecutors have dismissed due to deaths or disappearances of witnesses.
Netanyahu may have avoided a political setback for now but his ability to govern while facing an ever-widening corruption investigation may result in the magician running out of tricks.