What does Netanyahu hope to achieve?

By Gidi Weitz, HAARETZ


Now, Netanyahu’s Likud and Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan are battling over those same sensitive posts. Netanyahu wants to keep the Public Security Ministry, which will apparently go to Miri Regev. In addition, Likud will apparently chair the Knesset Constitution Committee. Kahol Lavan will get the Justice Ministry if it in fact joins the government, so the next minister will certainly be less hostile to the law enforcement system than Amir Ohana.

Even before the decision to indict him was made, Netanyahu had adopted a strategy of smearing the legal system to destroy public trust in it and wear it down. Appointing Ohana was a key move in this campaign, and Netanyahu will undoubtedly be sorry to lose him.

Nevertheless, ceding the Justice Ministry seems like a trivial concession compared to the enormous gains, from Netanyahu’s standpoint, of dismantling the opposition and freezing planned legislation against him.

“Netanyahu’s getting something amazing here,” a senior government official said. “All the people who said they wouldn’t serve under him are accepting him as prime minister. Gantz, [Gabi] Ashkenazi and Co. are giving him legitimacy, and that also affects the legal system. So he gave up the justice portfolio and Ohana … but on balance, it’s definitely worth it for him.”

Once the new government is formed, a search committee will be established to choose the next state prosecutor. For Netanyahu, ceding the Justice Ministry means losing the battle over who will get that job, assuming Likud and Kahol Lavan don’t make a corrupt bargain to change the appointment process and appoint a mutually agreed candidate. But Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has already said that changing this process – which deliberately excludes the politicians from involvement in choosing the nominee – would be illegal.

Mendelblit will head the search committee, which will also include the Justice Ministry’s director general, the civil service commissioner, a jurist chosen by Mendelblit in consultation with the other two, and an academic. Assuming there is a sympathetic justice minister who adopts the committee’s recommendation, this means Mendelblit’s nominee will almost certainly get the job.

The three most likely nominees are Netanyahu’s prosecutor, Liat Ben Ari; Deputy State Prosecutor Shlomo Lemberger; and Military Advocate General Sharon Afek.

The appointment requires cabinet approval, and Netanyahu will certainly try to thwart a red-flag candidate like Ben Ari. But Kahol Lavan will likely have a majority in the cabinet for this decision, since three ministers from Netanyahu’s bloc are barred from participating due to current or future investigations against them – Netanyahu, Yaakov Litzman and Arye Dery.

The coronavirus crisis delayed Netanyahu’s trial. The next justice minister will decide whether to reopen the courts by its new start date, May 24. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys said the evidence probably won’t be heard until after the Jewish holidays in the fall, and then Netanyahu’s situation will become clearer.

“He’ll start the trial, respond, see how the winds are blowing, and then he can make a decision,” a politician who knows him well said, adding that he might seek to be appointed president.

Given that by law, the president enjoys complete immunity from prosecution, would the Knesset really elect him president while his trial is ongoing? “Absolutely, they’ll want to get rid of him,” the politician said, adding that the High Court of Justice wouldn’t necessarily intervene.

But senior jurists said the court certainly would intervene, because electing Netanyahu to a position that enjoys immunity would severely undermine equality before the law. The court “isn’t likely to accept the interpretation that existing criminal proceedings against someone should stop once he’s elected president,” one said. “That doesn’t jibe with the spirit of the law at all.”

One high-ranking politician said he doubted Netanyahu would seek a plea bargain, noting that during negotiations with Kahol Lavan, he rejected Gantz’s hints that he’d support pardoning Netanyahu if he quit. For Netanyahu, this politician said, the solution is the emerging unity government: He’ll remain prime minister for another 18 months, then become the vice prime minister, who can’t be fired, enabling him to conduct his trial while in office, as he wanted.

There’s also another possibility: Netanyahu will thwart formation of a unity government or break it up prematurely, hold new elections in another few months and, having dismantled the opposition that challenged him over the last year, win them. He would then form a right-wing government, which would pass legislation to stop his trial and prevent the High Court from intervening.

“When Netanyahu feels the public is with him, he’ll take provocative steps against the law enforcement system that won’t let Gantz remain in the government and we’ll have another election,” someone who knows him well predicted.

It’s very unlikely that Netanyahu could stop his trial, but nobody would be surprised to see him try. When the prime minister is convinced that he’s being conspired against by demonic figures battling him for control of the country, he can justify – to himself and to others – any action to protect himself against them.

April 4, 2020 | 15 Comments » | 475 views

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15 Comments / 15 Comments

  1. “Today the security forces closed the entrances to the city [the haredi suburb of Tel Aviv, Bnai Brak] in accordance with a government decision. This is less pleasant, but it is a necessity in order to protect us. It is important to emphasize that traffic within the city is permitted and those who need to exit for essential purposes are permitted to do so. Today I spoke with the police officers and movement is permitted in all neighborhoods, including Kiryat Herzog and Pardes Katz. The situation is a new and unconventional situation. We work with all the bodies to arrange everything.” This from a statement by the Mayor of Bnai Brak, as quoted in Arutz Sheva. What is Bibi trying to achieve by this? God knows.

  2. “According to the latest WHO data published in 2017 Influenza and Pneumonia Deaths in Israel reached 2,387 or 6.83% of total deaths. The age adjusted Death Rate is 21.91 per 100,000 of population ranks Israel #127 in the world.” From the worldlifeexpectancy.com web site. So far this year, the Israeli government has reported 45 deaths from “coronavirus.” The heavy annual death toll from pneumonia (which includes nearly all “coronavirus” deaths this year, since “coronavirus” rarely causes death unless it leads to pneumonia)) has never prompted the Israeli government to close the country down. The Israeli press has barely mentioned it. There is something really weird going on, in Israel as in nearly all “developed” countries.

  3. @ Shmuel Mohalever:
    How is Israel going to restore its economy and finances without having to go begging for credits, and what will happen to aliyah if the country has zillions of its own unemployed?
    If their economy is destroyed, how they are going to maintain the military, and won’t they be forced to accept any “peace plan” imposed on them?
    Has anybody thought of that?
    Or they are too busy trying to lock up the haredim?

  4. Israeli gov’t completes largest-ever bond issue

    The $5 billion debt raised by Israel was five-times oversubscribed and will help pay for the NIS 80 billion economic aid package.

    Israel’s Ministry of Finance, led by Accountant General Rony Hizkiyahu, yesterday completed raising $5 billion in three series of bonds on international markets. The debt was successfully raised despite the coronavirus caused economic crisis and the very large scale sale of Israeli government bonds by foreign investors two weeks ago. The bond issue included Israel’s first ever 100-year bond on which it will pay annual interest rates of 4.5%.


  5. @ Bear Klein:
    I was right at least once, unfortunately.
    And whose debt slave Israel is going to be for a 100 years?
    Just wondering who bought the bonds.
    Maybe it’s not as bad as I think – I am a pessimist.

  6. @ Bear Klein:
    I did say they will need credit after their economy is ruined.
    They issued bonds. Bonds are debts. Israel will have to pay interest on them for 100 years
    Finance is NOT my strong point but I understand that if someone is dead broke, they need to borrow money or have no food, shelter, and, eventually no clothes, and this is what I said (that’s why I concluded that I was right).
    Also, the borrower is subservient to his creditor until he repays the loan.

  7. @ Bear Klein:
    My answer to you disappeared.
    I said I was right because I stated that Israel would have to borrow money after its economy was ruined.
    Israel issued bonds. Bonds are debts. Israel will have to pay interest on those debts for 100 years. Try a mortgage calculator – I am wondering how much they will pay in interest over 100 years.

  8. @ Reader:
    US is also issuing Bonds. Governments often issue Bonds. Read the link I provided the issue was over subscribed 4 or 5 times because so many people wanted in on the Bond. Israel has the ability to raise cash when it needs because its credit rating is exemplary.

    Israel will weather the storm. Its economy based on high-tech will bounce back.

  9. @ Bear Klein:
    All I am saying is that BONDS ARE DEBTS and my post stated that Israel will have to borrow.
    I was RIGHT TO SAY THAT Israel would have to borrow BECAUSE Israel DID borrow tons of money by issuing BONDS, as you said.
    Now I am curious WHO bought the bonds (who will be Israel’s creditors).
    Also, I can’t quite understand who is going to buy every country’s bonds if every country’s government and every country’s population are BROKE and each BROKE government ISSUES BONDS.

  10. @ Reader:
    Read the link I provided to as to who bought the bonds. Credit worthy countries raise money at reasonable rates. Those who are not creditworthy have a much harder time and must offer higher rates.

    You initial comment said Israel would have to go “begging for credits“. They raised funds easily and could easily raise more.

    Israeli Real Estate has been priced very high. Now in many place investors including Israel there will be people in a couple of months jumping at good real-estate opportunities. Israel raised a record amount of funds for its high-tech companies in the first quarter of the year. Israel is well thought of by many investors in the world. There is now a lot of capital sitting on the sidelines waiting for investment opportunities.

  11. @ Reader:
    5 Times oversubscribed for $5billion.

    The 80 billion is Israeli shekel not dollars. About 3.3 Shekel per dollar. They did not want to debt finance the whole package.

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