Why Litzmangate is unlikely to impact elections - analysis

Netanyahu, Litzman and the corruption threshold

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
There has been endless talk about the impact that gradually raising the electoral threshold could have on elections.
There is, however, another threshold that has risen more rapidly and has more of an impact: the corruption threshold.
It seems like an eternity ago, but former prime minister Ehud Olmert quit his premiership when police recommended corruption charges against him in September 2008.
Police recommendations were considered a big deal back then in what feels like ancient political history in retrospect. Since, police recommendations have held less and less weight.
Interior Minister Arye Deri (Shas), Social Welfare Minister Haim Katz (Likud) and former coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) have all been recommended for indictments by police. Yet, all three were reelected on April 9 and will likely be reelected on September 17.
But, the best indicator of the rising corruption threshold is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Not only did he not follow Olmert’s lead by resigning over police-recommended corruption charges in February 2018, he has also passed the stages of the state prosecution and attorney-general recommending charges, pending a hearing.
As this threshold continues to rise, it should come as no surprise if Netanyahu manages to stay in power even after a final bribery indictment in December.
These new norms must be kept in mind when considering the serious charges recommended by police on Tuesday against Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman (United Torah Judaism).
The charges will be magnified by media in the coming days. Nonetheless, as serious as the charges are, they will likely be forgotten. Even if a KAN report – that the prosecution will also recommend charges before the election – is correct, the impact on the race is likely to be negligible.
UTJ has the most loyal voter base and charges against their leader will not change that.
Since Litzman went from his short stint as health minister to return to his former deputy health minister post, Netanyahu has been health minister. And just as the minister continued in his post as legal processes continued, so will his deputy.
This trend will continue as long as the corruption threshold keeps rising.