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Netanyahu's Biggest Bribery Isn't the One He's Indicted For

Kobi Richter
Kobi Richter
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Netanyahu speaks at a press conference regarding his intention to file a request to the Knesset for immunity from prosecution, in Jerusalem on January 1, 2020.
Netanyahu speaks at a press conference regarding his intention to file a request to the Knesset for immunity from prosecution, in Jerusalem on January 1, 2020.Credit: AFP
Kobi Richter
Kobi Richter

“They accuse me of getting positive media coverage,” complained Netanyahu. No, you’re not accused of receiving positive coverage, but of giving a bribe worth millions (of my money as well as that of all other citizens of this country) in exchange for the positive coverage you sought. This is like a thief who steals a watermelon and when caught, whines about being accused of eating a watermelon.

The most frightening thing is not what Netanyahu did or is accused of doing, but what will happen if he manages to continue to mortgage the future of this country for the sake of a maximal postponement of the legal proceedings against him. This is the biggest act of bribery, and this is the reason a person charged with bribery, proving each day that he’s willing to continue bribing to obtain immunity from prosecution, cannot continue to serve us, even if the complimentary comments of his supporters regarding his fantastic capabilities are true.

To the best of my understanding, a country in which the majority of citizens are not Jewish cannot be both Jewish and democratic. It will have to grant full and equal rights to all its citizens, thus not being Jewish, or prevent full equality, thus not being democratic. I take care to listen to opinions that are different than my own, while raising this question. How can we remain a Jewish and democratic state without defining our borders around a strong Jewish majority? None of my right-wing interlocutors has offered a viable alternative. Netanyahu likewise has no answer to this question but he undoubtedly understands that the path of the extreme right leads to the end of the Zionist dream, which entailed a Jewish and democratic state.

And yet, Netanyahu is willing to sell the future of this country to the racist, messianic right in exchange for its support for his attempt to evade justice. This is the biggest and scariest bribery of all, with a person who was sane and level-headed like Netanyahu was 10 years ago selling the country for a mess of pottage.

A country with a border and a Jewish majority defines by default a Palestinian state alongside it, as implied by support for a two-state solution, as Netanyahu did in his 2009 Bar-Ilan University speech. Two states are a prerequisite for the fulfilment of the Zionist dream of a Jewish and democratic state. Two states are a precondition for peace among ourselves, between Jews and the large Arab minority that accepts this state as Jewish, as long as it is democratic and egalitarian, and as long as it seeks and finds a way to reconcile with the Arab countries around us.

Two states, or a beginning of and a commitment to a process having that goal, are a precondition for a peace-seeking process with moderate states in this region. Two states are a condition for our return to the bosom of the West, which will increasingly reject us politically and economically if we don’t embark on a process ensuring liberation from foreign domination for the Palestinians. Two states will also remove the basis for the hostility and threats from Iran, which, in the name of the Shi’ite branch of Islam, wishes to display active support for Palestinian aspirations as a winning card in its struggle for superiority in the fractious Islamic world. There is no other rivalry, based on economic or diplomatic causes, between Iran and Israel.

Finally, a peace process with countries in this region is the only key to a regional economic union, a Middle Eastern Union, which will grant us and them prosperity in a world in which large and powerful regional unions are a condition for survival in the global marketplace. We must not ignore the danger of leaving these diplomatic assets in the hands of Netanyahu, who has shown that he is willing to sell them for his personal benefit. Leaving our best assets in the hands of a person suspected of bribery is extremely illogical, to the point of suicidal folly.

The writer is an entrepreneur and industrialist in knowledge-based and medical industry.

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