Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu climbs out after a visit inside the Rahav, the fifth submarine in the fleet, after it arrived in Haifa port January .
(photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)
There are two polar opposite ways to view the police’s recommended bribery and fraud charges against several top officials in the Submarine Affair.
The several top officials included Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cousin and former close personal lawyer, David Shimron, his former chief of staff, David Sharan, and the man he intended to appoint as National Security Council Chief, Avriel Bar-Yosef.
One perspective is that Netanyahu won and is scot-free.
He not only was cleared of any charges, but actually never even formally became a suspect in the Submarine Affair
– despite a public campaign against him by former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon.
It may be unpleasant for him that so many close acquaintances are on the verge of indictment, but he is Teflon once again.
And assuming he himself is definitively innocent, he can now stop worrying about getting caught up in false allegations.
The opposite perspective is that he has only dodged one round and the police’s formal recommendation of charges against so many close aides puts him on the brink.
If one assumes that Netanyahu may have culpability for part of the bribery scheme, but is only safe to date because he was using messengers who have not yet turned on him, the likelihood of turning on him may have gone up.
Yes, Shimron, Sharan and Bar-Yosef have not turned on Netanyahu until now, but will they last if and when they are actually indicted and if they start losing at trial?
Will they stay loyal when they are likely to start looking at jail time?
Or will they flip like former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s top former aide Shula Zaken flipped – deep into the trial against her when she woke up and saw no light at the end of the tunnel?
If they do flip, Netanyahu could face his most serious charges yet.
The last point is that this entire question matters much less now than it did when the affair broke.
Three other top former Netanyahu aides have already flipped against him, crucially in Case 4000 the Bezeq-Walla Affair and, as The Jerusalem Post reported earlier in June, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit is likely to file an indictment against the prime minister for bribery.
But at least for one day, Bibi may have dodged another bullet.
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