Last time we talked about Bolivia and their trouble with their presidential election. There was tampering that occurred and corruption present. Like this Bolivia case and Russia (which I also talked about previously) there is more corruption occurring in a much different part of the world.
Benjamin Netanyahu has been the prime minister of Israel for over 13 years. Among more developed countries, the only leaders who have been in office longer are Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogen of Turkey and Germany’s Angela Merkel. A trend we have seen among leaders who have been in office for so long (Like Evo Morales in Bolivia), they take matters into their own hands to secure a longer stay in office. Although, Israel is described as being more free than Bolivia, with an Aggregate Freedom Score of 78/100 or a freedom rating of 2.5/7. So, it is mostly free. They are a multiparty democracy (so there seems to be political competition available), citizens have guaranteed individual rights, and even minority rights are protected. As far democracy, Israel has institutions in place that are much more developed than a country similar to Bolivia.
The current issue is that the prime minister Netanyahu has been charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in three different cases of corruption. He allegedly has been given hundreds of thousands of dollars to give political favors to powerful friends. The worst charge is that he passed laws that led to benefits of over $250 million to a company he owned called Bezeq. Another one of his companies which owns a news site, Walla, was pushing out positive press about him and his family. These charges come on the back end of elections, with two elections, one in April and one in September, locked in a stalemate. Now, the third election may be in risk of getting cancelled altogether. Naturally, Netanyahu denies all of the charges, describing them as irrational and ridiculous. But, Netanyahu does not have many friends in the matter. First off, his promises to Israeli prosperity has alienated the Palestinians, who make up 4.9 million people out of the 8.7 million population. Also, two close political friends have become state witnesses and have come forward to testify against the prime minister. Previously, before the incident became public, Netanyahu also struggle with his political rival Benny Gantz. Because they were unsuccessful in their attempts to form a coalition to share power. These failures are what led to the recent election.
The overlying issue is that the office of prime minister is still in need of an elected candidate. Although technically Netanyahu is still prime minister because the elections aren’t over yet. The accusations will not force him to resign conclusions. Also, because of the failed coalition, this is the first in Israeli history that this office needs a seat. There are now just 21 days where any member in the parliament can attempt to secure this seat. They would need a 61member majority to become prime minister. Netanyahu is reluctant to leave office just yet because his current position allows him to fight against the current charges. Also, the office gives him immunity from prosecution, a regulation that we don’t often see in more developed democracies.
The opposition is pushing for further investigation and action against Netanyahu, mostly because elections would yield similar results to the previous two this year, another deadlock. Although, among current citizens, a poll was conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute where
65% of Israelis polled were in favor of Netanyahu’s resignation. Citizens and political officials alike claim that the voluntary resignation would preserve the honor of Netanyahu, saving his dignity, at the very least. Unfortunately, Netanyahu is still content on standing against accusations and has also looked to America and President Trump, as they have a fairly close relationship. So far, the United States has provided no response, and personally, I do not think we will. It will be interesting to see what further action Netanyahu takes and especially how the Israeli parliament will react to all of the turmoil and cluster in office.
Hjelmgaard, Kim. “Israel’s Netanyahu Charged in Corruption Cases.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 21 Nov. 2019, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/11/21/israels-benjamin-netanyahu-chargedcorruption-cases/4259442002/.
“Israel.” Israel Country Report, 11 Mar. 2019, https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedomworld/2019/israel.