Editorial |

Netanyahu, a Different League of Corruption

Honduras former President Juan Orlando Hernandez meets Israel's then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, during his 2016 visit to Israel.
Honduras former President Juan Orlando Hernandez, second left, meets Israel's then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, during his 2016 visit to Israel.Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO

The unbelievable story about the questionable promise ostensibly given by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, in exchange for his diplomatic support, is yet another example of what they mean when they say: “Netanyahu, a different league.”

In June, two weeks after the “government of change” was sworn in, Honduras opened an embassy in Jerusalem, with Hernandez in attendance. “Honorable president, you are a true friend of Israel,” said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the ceremony. Opposition leader Netanyahu was quick to take credit for the embassy’s move from Tel Aviv. On the day the new embassy opened, Netanyahu boasted: “I agreed on opening the Jerusalem embassy with the president a year ago, and today we see the results.”

It now turns out that the agreement also included helping an outlaw deal with legal authorities. To the amazement of Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Hernandez turned to them and said that he had been promised by a “senior official” in Netanyahu’s government that in exchange for moving his embassy to Jerusalem, Israel would help him deal with the United States (as reported in Hebrew edition of Haaretz by Avi Bar-Eli, April 29). But 10 days ago, Honduras extradited “Israel’s true friend” to the U.S., where he faces federal charges of drug and gun trafficking, possibly meaning he will spend his life in prison.

Honduras former President Juan Orlando Hernandez boards a plane of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for his extradition to the United States, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, last month.Credit: FREDY RODRIGUEZ/ REUTERS

The alleged promise to help him deal with the U.S. in exchange for moving the embassy is not the only shady deal between the two governments. In exchange for Hernandez’s support for Israel in various international forums, the Netanyahu governments armed his violent and corrupt security forces. Making this fact public helped Hernandez get re-elected. In Israel, the details of the arms deal remain under wraps (Eitay Mack, Haaretz Hebrew edition, April 29).

When Donald Trump threatened Hernandez, saying he’d cut defense aid to Honduras due to the large number of Honduran refugees arriving at the southern border of the U.S., Netanyahu mobilized to help reduce the tension between the two in a meeting with Hernandez and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, held in Brasilia.

The Israeli public doesn’t need this story to realize that Netanyahu has no red lines. A direct thread connects his willingness to legitimize Kahanism to attain power and the maintenance of ties and nefarious dealings with shady leaders in exchange for their diplomatic support. This latest story proves yet again that the illusion that the world will learn to accept Israel’s occupation and the settlements is totally baseless. The four embassies now operating in Jerusalem are those of the U.S., due to Netanyahu’s relationship with Trump, Guatemala, Kosovo and Honduras. Not a list to be proud of.

Netanyahu didn’t deal in diplomacy; he tried to buy support at any price. The only way to gain world support is to resume diplomatic efforts toward resolving the conflict with the Palestinians. One may hope that Lapid and Bennett understand this.

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