Opinion

The Die Is Cast. Netanyahu Is History

The prime minister's political career of nothing but himself is over and it doesn’t matter whether it happens in the coming election or immediately afterwards

File photo: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to give a statement to the press on draft indictment against him, Jerusalem, February 28, 2019.
Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented the Likud’s Knesset “all-star team” of candidates on Monday. The event was held at Kfar Maccabiah in a highly impressive and noisy ceremony. Thus far the Likud campaign has focused only on the king, but at this event the vassals also were given a stage. But only a small and limited stage because they’re the vassals – and he’s the king.

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Netanyahu spoke enthusiastically and out of deep conviction, but these were just the words of a man on his political deathbed. The die has been cast. Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit executed him the moment he presented the three harsh indictments. True, there is still a hearing to be held – but it will be impossible after the 57 difficult pages that contain a very detailed and exceptional description of the crimes of fraud, breach of trust and bribery – for all this to be overturned in a hearing. Mendelblit has been working on this for years, and he knows each and every detail. He even reduced three charges of bribery to just one, just to be safe.

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So any changes to the indictment, if they are made, would be minimal. In other words, Netanyahu’s career is over and it doesn’t matter whether it happens in the coming election or immediately afterwards. Netanyahu is history.

Netanyahu is not a corrupt man in the South American sense of the word. He didn’t come to power in order to accept envelopes filled with cash, but a series of attributes led him to another type of corruption: rolling corruption.

He suffers from two serious ailments: The miser’s ailment and a media illness. Both have been infecting his body for years like a hidden virus, but then turned fatal in recent years. The many years in power (10 consecutive years and another three in the past) have reduced him to the point where arrogance and lack of caution combined with stinginess and an obsession with the media have led him to believe he’s above the law.

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He was certain he was saving the people of Israel each and every day, so he saw no problem with accepting gifts worth hundreds of thousands of shekels or with weaving deals for the sake of positive news coverage. He is, after all, the king. The height of arrogance and lack of caution he suffered from were expressed by the fact that he recorded the damning conversation with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes, but failed to make sure to destroy it.

A summation of Netanyahu’s rule shows it was an era of nothing. He didn’t advance the country’s diplomatic or security situation, nor did he advance it economically or socially. His entire goal was to stay in power.

In the diplomatic and security realm our situation is awful. Nothing has been resolved and no enemy has disappeared. Even the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is growing stronger. The other day, a car-ramming attack against soldiers occurred in the West Bank, which can be added to the weekly list of violence. Hamas continues to launch incendiary balloons at communities along the border with the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah in Lebanon is hoarding more and more missiles and even Iran is continuing to reinforce itself in Syria. There are no negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, there is no regional solution with Arab countries, and therefore the next war and the next round of fatalities is only a matter of time.

Even in the realm of economics the disappointment is great. As opposed to the period when he served as finance minister in Ariel Sharon’s government in 2003, when he led some important reforms that propelled the economy forward, in the last 10 years he hasn’t done anything.

It is true that he and Avi Nissenkorn hold opposing views about the economy, but in effect Netanyahu has implemented the Histadrut labor federation chairman’s policy. He has surrendered to the big unions and he hasn’t implemented any reforms that would require confrontation. He has turned the fat man (the public sector) into an obese salary machine, at the expense of the skinny person (the private sector) suffocating under the burden of taxation. He didn’t reduce customs duties on food, and as a result the cost of living remains high. He didn’t close the Israel Lands Authority, so housing prices are sky-high. And the worst of all is that the deficit is running wild, there’s a dangerous rise in the ratio of debt to GDP, and economic growth is in a worrisome downturn.

In July 2017, Meir Shamgar, the retired president of the Supreme Court (who cannot be accused of being a leftist), said: “The prime minister must step down because of the gifts he received.” The day will come when Netanyahu will regret not having heeded Shamgar’s words.