This isn't the first note about this topic, and it won't be the last.
What the police are calling Case #1000 and Case #2000 are relatively simple.
#1000 involves gifts to the Netanyahus from a number of people, amounting to several hundred thousand dollars in value, seemingly given in anticipation or exchange for things that Israel officials could do for the givers.
An aide to one of the gift givers has told police that both Bibi and Sara made a practice of asking for a renewal of cigars and champagne when their supplies ran down.Irashark@gmail.com
#2000 involves gestures of give and take between Netanyahu and the publisher of Israel's second most popular daily newspaper, Yedioth Aharonoth (latest news). Netanyahu wanted better treatment from that newspaper, and could pressure the most popular newspaper, Israel Hayom (Israel today), to be less competitive with Yedioth Aharonoth. Israel Hayom is given away free and supported by Netanyahu's patron Sheldon Adelson,
Case #3000 is more complicated, and may become the key is whatever happens. It involves the contracting for submarines and other warships from a German shipyard, and the alleged enrichment of several individuals close to Netanyahu who served as intermediaries between the shipyard and the Israel Ministry of Defense.
Why the need for intermediaries is one of the puzzles. Presumably Israel's Defense Ministry could arrange what would be necessary. The German government would be involved because it would be paying for part of the deal, either under the heading of making up for historic wrongs, or seeing that a German shipyard, rather than a Korean competitor, got the work..
Somewhere in the story are allegations that Israel's Prime Minister acted so that private sector intermediaries, rather than Defense Ministry personnel, would arrange the contracts.
Those intermediaries include what we might describe as a cabal of individuals closely associated with Netanyahu as relatives, long time friends and advisers.
Yitzhak Malcho and David Shimron are law parnters, brothers-in-law, and have both served Netanyahu as senior advisers and--in Malcho's case--an emissary in sensitive international dealings. Shimron is Netanyahu's cousin, and Malcho has known the Prime Minister since they were boyhood friends.
Also involved in the cluster of intermediaries are several others, including another one-time senior aide in the Prime Minister's Office.
We're hearing of confrontations before the police between individuals involved, at least one of whom has agreed to testify for the prosecution. Participants are suspected of violating rules, laws, and accepted practice on matters large and perhaps trivial. Commentators demand an extension of the investigation to include the Prime Minister himself. If he didn't know the details of his relatives, friends, and aides making a lot of money at public expense, he seems at least guilty of violating public trust.
Shimron and Malcho are denying any wrong doing, insisting that they served only the interests of Israel, and denying any involvement by the Prime Minister.
Case #1000 has advanced to the point where one of the major gift givers has been found to have received personal treatment from the Prime Minister or other senior officials on matters of importance. The Prime Minister can claim to have been acting in the public interest for a man important to Israel, but commentators, and perhaps the prosecutor, smell enough to call it bribery.
In re Case #2000, a former key aide in the Prime Minister's Office has turned over recordings of what may be incriminating conversations involving Netanyahu and the publisher of Yedioth Aharonot. The man turning over the recordings may be getting a deal from the police and/or prosecutor involving other criminal charges against him.
There's also Case #4000, concerning questionable dealings between the head of Israel's major communications company and the senior professional in the Communications Ministry, both of whom have been close to Netanyahu.
Yedioth Aharonoth published a lengthy and condemning interview in its weekend magazine with the Labor Party Mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai. Given his party and constituency, Huldai may be viewed as a natural enemy of Netanyahu. With all that, however, his comments were pointed, and reflect what others are saying. Namely, that the Netanyahus' expectation of expensive gifts from those wanting favors from Israel is not only immoral but also illegal. And that Netanyahu's repeated claims that he did not know about the actions of close aides profiting from the ship deal with the Germans is simply not credible.
The level of media ridicule is rising along with the preoccupation of major TV channels and newspapers providing a daily flow of details from one or another police investigation.
Polls are indicating that the public doesn't believe the Prime Minister's denials about the various allegations of wrongdoing.
In one of the latest polls, Yair Lapid is tied with Netanyahu in Israelis' choice of a Prime Minister.
That indicates the continued, but declining support of Netanyahu and Likud.
However, Likud Knesset Members are climbing over one another to propose one or another formulation of measures that would restrict the police and/or the prosecutor from moving against the Prime Minister. Leading police, Ministry of Justice, and legal figures have expressed opposition to such members, along with opposition MKs, and MKs within the coalition. It seems that all such proposals will fail, either in the Knesset or the courts. What's left is the impression that those proposing them are primarily concerned to bolster their reputations as good party members for whatever comes after Netanyahu.
Parallel is an effort of a firebrand MK of Jewish Home, a Likud ally in the governing coalition, to limit the capacity of the State Comptroller to expose official wrongdoing. That comes after the Comptroller published a report about the shenanigans of some Jewish Home local authorities.
For those who disagree with many Israelis about Bibi and his supporters, you're free to express your support for them, nominate our PM for designation as Messiach, and contribute to a defense fund.
The crowd of attorneys serving him, Sara, Yair, and all their underlings aren't working for nothing.
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem