Netanyahu should be careful what he wishes for

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Opinion: The PM and his supporters claim collusion by law enforcement authorities in a bid to oust him, but their demand to investigate the investigators may drag up issues from the prime minister’s history that do not show him in a favorable light

Ben-Dror Yemini – www.ynetnews.com

The country has been treated to the insight of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s self-appointed defense attorneys in recent days. Some of Netanyahu’s blind aficionados have concluded that his investigators and prosecutors are the ones who should be indicted in a special drumhead court-martial headed by the prime minister himself.

However, there are those, not necessarily well-known names, who have published fascinating analyses of the indictments.

As someone who worked in the field of white-collar offenses, I can say that their claims don’t seem to be made out of whole cloth. The earnest ones concede that this behavior is inappropriate, but not criminal.

We should also admit that Netanyahu’s allegations against law enforcement authorities aren’t entirely unfounded. There’s some dissonance in hearing these allegations come from the defendant, but these claims have been sounded before regardless of Netanyahu.

Former Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman’s groundless corruption indictment in the 90s and the countless investigations against President Reuven Rivlin and former senior IDF commander Gal Hirsch, which never materialized, cropped up without any relation to Netanyahu.

Even current Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit asserted there was a tendentious and politically charged prosecution against him when he was investigated for his involvement in the Harpaz affair – a document that included instructions on how to boost the image of one of the candidates for IDF chief of staff while smearing others.

So did Netanyahu reinvent the wheel? Absolutely not.

In one of Netanyahu’s less intricate corruption cases, known as Case 2000, it’s very difficult to attribute any criminal intent to the defendants, the prime minister and media magnate Arnon Mozes – the Yedioth Ahronoth and Ynet publisher and owner.

Mozes just wanted to save the family business and made some empty promises, meanwhile admitting he didn’t have the power to influence the writing of any journalist.

In practice, he only suggested hiring more right-wing writers, a very welcomed initiative regardless. But is this bribery? Come on.

Netanyahu had promised to make legislative changes that I highly doubt he ever wanted or intended to execute.

No, I have no intention of defending the publisher of the paper I write for, but even though he made it clear to me time after time that I could write anything I wanted, when the affair broke out, I wrote that he must step down from the paper and I haven’t changed my mind since.

He cannot keep serving as a publisher. The recordings, in this case, are a stain on his reputation in and of themselves, and with all due respect to the presumption of innocence – a newspaper is not only a commercial business, but it also requires a different set of rules.

For one, it requires the application of public law onto the press, an idea not very favorable in the eyes of newspaper owners.

But let’s get back to Netanyahu. He is right in demanding an investigation into the prosecution.

Daily business newspaper Globes previously published an article that seemed to raise the need for an investigation, a story which popped up again this week in Haayin Hashviit, a website that investigates and discusses the media in Israel.

According to the publications, back when Netanyahu served as finance minister in the mid-2000s, he personally meddled in an investigation against a Likud official run by the Israel Tax Authority.

All the investigation files and materials were transferre

The investigation material reportedly included a recording of an informant who testified against Netanyahu, but Ruth David closed the case after three days and the informant’s body was later found in a Tel Aviv hotel displaying clear signs of torture.

Years later, Judge David Rosen ruled that this whole plot was a cover-up.

Why was no commission of inquiry established? Perhaps because no one really wanted it, not even Netanyahu.

Is this just another plot against the prime minister? Netanyahu had already claimed before that he has no idea of what he is being accused, the only sure thing is that something stinks here.

The investigation files were destroyed and Ruth David, who closed the case, emerged from the entire saga unscathed.

On one hand, the allegations raised against the prosecution and the fear of political incentives directing the investigations are not new.

On the other hand, Netanyahu’s conduct – regardless of the Tax Authority affair – is public corruption, even if not criminal.

There are two main conclusions:

  1. Israel must establish a committee of inquiry to investigate the prosecution’s conduct in these various cases, including that of Ruth David.
  2. This should not be a committee dealing with political beheadings, but rather a move to take out the trash and clear the murky air.

So allow me to support Netanyahu’s demand, but at the same time, maintain that he must go.

The presumption of innocence is important, but not under the circumstances.

There are situations in which both sides are right. I think we are in such a situation and we should draw our conclusions accordingly.

 

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