Analysis

Corruption Probes Near Conclusion – and There Is No Red Line Netanyahu Won't Cross

Knowing his old line of defense is about crumble, so the prime minister's laying out his new one: Attacking the expected police recommendations in his corruption cases

Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking at a Hanukkah party event in Ramat Gan, December 20, 2017.
Meged Guzani

There is no nadir, no red line that Benjamin Netanyahu won’t cross on his way out of our lives. Tuesday night, in Kfar Maccabiah, with a lit menorah in the background, he managed to go even lower than his own previous minimalist standards.

If the prime minister were a fence, Hamas would never succeed in tunneling under him.

It happened when he quoted the painful sentences uttered by a certain “public figure” after a ridiculous case against him was closed – because no crime was committed – after a three-year delay of justice.

“That man was the president,” Netanyahu revealed to his audience, which, predictably, groaned and booed.

Long seconds passed before he urged, “a little respect” and continued his speech.

But he had achieved his purpose – to link himself to President Reuven Rivlin and elicit catcalls from the Likud party members in the hall. I wish him joy of it. Even the joy of the poor is still joy.

If this weren’t Netanyahu, the annihilator of statesmanlike behavior, denigrator of the rule of law and chief destroyer of norms in our day, one could even have felt sorry for him. Suspected of bribery and fraud, hemmed in from every side by a ring of evidence – recordings, documents and testimony – he stood there attacking and smearing the police like the most contemptible of criminals. His forced smile, his improving skill at mimicry, his false euphoria all hid great fear.

He knows that his first line of defense (“there will be nothing because there was nothing”) is going to collapse in early January, with the expected publication of both the police’s recommendations on whether to indict him and the crucial testimony of his former chief of staff, Ari Harow, who has turned state’s evidence. Then the public will learn what a deep legal hole the prime minister is in.

So with that first line about to fall, he laid the groundwork for the second line Tuesday night: slandering and vilifying the police’s anticipated recommendations. Further down the line, when he has reason to believe that the prosecution is about to endorse the police findings, he’ll aim his fire there, too. No institution, no person and no value will be immune to his attacks, all the way to the very top, the Supreme Court.

It’s not clear exactly how his speech Tuesday night helped him, aside from arousing an audience of his admirers, who will follow him blindly under any circumstances. His attack on the police, whose senior investigators are working shoulder to shoulder with prosecution representatives, isn’t likely to endear him to the jurists who will ultimately decide his case. Unless he’s hoping to intimidate them, which is beyond his power.

Almost all of Likud’s ministers and Knesset members were present in the hall Tuesday night. Most of them surely wanted to bury themselves, but none of them is brave enough to do anything. So they served as coerced extras in this frightful performance by the suspect–in–chief.

They know he’ll drag them down, tarnish and make them stink, yet they still act like sheep.