Skip to main content

Explainer: Netanyahu investigation - What happens next?

Benjamin Netanyahu is the dominant Israeli politician of his generation. On the domestic and international stage, no rival comes close to the Likud Party leader known widely as “Bibi”.

Israeli police on Dec. 2 recommended that the 69-year-old prime minister be indicted for bribery and fraud. It is the third such police recommendation against the four-term veteran, who has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Here’s a guide to Netanyahu’s political and legal prospects.


CASE 4000 - The police say they found enough evidence for bribery and fraud charges to be brought against Netanyahu and his wife Sara.

They alleged that Netanyahu granted regulatory favors to Israel’s leading telecommunications company, Bezeq Telecom Israel (BEZQ.TA), in return for more positive coverage of him and his wife Sara on a company news website known as Walla.

CASE 1000 - In February police said they had found sufficient evidence for Netanyahu to be charged with “committing of crimes of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.”

They alleged that Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood producer and Israeli citizen, and Australian businessman James Packer gave gifts including champagne, cigars and jewelry to Netanyahu and his family from 2007 to 2016.

Any legal proceedings would likely focus on whether political favors were sought or granted. Both Packer and Milchan deny wrongdoing.

CASE 2000 - Netanyahu is suspected of negotiating a deal with the owner of Israel’s best-selling daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, for better coverage. 

Police alleged “bribery, fraud and breach of trust by the prime minister” and by Yediot’s publisher, Arnon Mozes.

Police said the two men discussed ways of slowing the growth of a rival daily newspaper, Israel Hayom, “through legislation and other means”. Mozes denies wrongdoing.


Maybe, but it is by no means certain. He has denied all the allegations, and the police can only make recommendations.

It is now up to Israel’s attorney-general, Avichai Mandelblit, to decide whether to press charges against Netanyahu in the three cases. That decision could take months.


No. Netanyahu is under no strict legal obligation to quit. He has given every indication that he intends to remain in office while pursuing a legal battle.

There has been little public pressure from coalition partners for him to step down, although that could change as politicians and the Israeli public study detail of the cases. If he is charged, then political pressure could mount on him to step down.


The next election is scheduled for November 2019, but a snap election could be called.

Analysts have said Netanyahu may want to influence any possible legal proceedings against him by holding an early election to win a renewed public mandate. So far, his right-wing Likud leads the polls.

The likelihood of an early election increased in November after Netanyahu’s defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, quit the government, leaving the ruling coalition with a shaky one-seat majority in parliament.

Politicians close to Netanyahu have said any early election would likely be held in May.

But even if Netanyahu wins an election, the fact that he is being scrutinized by prosecutors will likely affect the calculations of supporters, rivals and opponents across the political spectrum. That may affect whether he could form a new coalition, if he wins.


No one in Netanyahu’s own right-wing party, Likud, is making a public challenge. 

The party is expected to close ranks around him in the coming election.

However, some in the party harbor ambitions to succeed Netanyahu when he eventually leaves the political stage.

These are thought to include Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Intelligence Minister Israel Katz and former Education Minister Gideon Saar.

None has shown strong signs of planning to depart significantly from Netanyahu’s hawkish policies.

Outside Likud, Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid opposition party, is seen as the strongest candidate to succeed Netanyahu in any upset. Lapid’s party is second to Likud in opinion polls.

Israel’s former army chief, Benny Gantz, is seen as a potential dovish candidate who could tip the balance in favor of a center-left bloc, though he has not yet thrown his hat in the ring.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak has been searing in his criticism of Netanyahu in recent months, and is also seen as a potential contender.

On the right, Lieberman and Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, could both seek to lead a right-wing bloc if Likud emerges in a weaker position in an election.


Netanyahu first led Israel from 1996 to 1999, and returned in 2009.

Many Israeli voters like his security-first approach to politics. 

They recognize that his fluency in English and decades of experience give him an international stature that no other Israeli politician can rival. And the Israeli economy is strong.

Netanyahu enjoys a particularly close relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump, who backed the Israeli leader’s consistent opposition to an Iran nuclear deal negotiated under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.

Trump’s decisions to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the U.S. Embassy to the city were greeted with delight by many Israelis, who saw Netanyahu’s influence in both decisions. 

Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, were outraged.

Even the three corruption investigations have, so far, failed to make a visible dent in Netanyahu’s political standing.

Netanyahu’s loyal right-wing base broadly seems to accept his claims that he is the victim of a politically orchestrated “witch-hunt” by the media and his political opponents.


Popular posts from this blog

Armenian protesters block traffic, railways & airport as protest leader loses PM bid

Anti-government protesters disrupted traffic in Armenia’s capital, blocking railways and roads leading to Yerevan International Airport, after the parliament voted against opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan’s bid for interim PM.
Protesters managed to block streets connecting downtown Yerevan to residential districts, disrupting transportation in Armenia’s capital, footage from the scene shows. 
Yerevan’s metro system has also been paralyzed as demonstrators sit on the tracks, preventing trains from passing.
Meanwhile, protesters disrupted traffic on a road leading to Yerevan’s Zvartnots International Airport, located just 12km from the center of the city. 
Consequently, some passengers had to go the rest of the way on foot in order to catch their flights, according to Sputnik news agency.
Railway services have also been disrupted all across the country amid the demonstrations, a spokesman for South Caucasus Railways confirmed to Interfax. 
Some other highways, including the one connecting th…

Syria threatens to ‘strike Tel Aviv airport’ unless UNSC acts against Israel’s impunity

Damascus has threatened to exercise its legitimate right for self-defense against Israeli aggression and target Tel Aviv airport in a mirror response, unless the Security Council puts an end to IDF intrusions into Syrian airspace.
Apparently fed up with years of Israeli impunity in the Syrian skies and regular strikes carried out in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport, Syria has threatened to retaliate in explicit terms.
“Isn’t time now for the UN Security Council to stop the Israeli repeated aggressions on the Syrian Arab Republic territories?” Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari wondered Tuesday.

Or is it required to draw the attention of the war-makers in this Council by exercising our legitimate right to defend ourself and respond to the Israeli aggression on Damascus International Civil Airport in the same way on Tel Aviv Airport?
Air strikes against alleged ‘Iranian targets’ in close proximity to Syria’s busiest airport have become a norm for…

Iran showcases massive UNDERGROUND missile factory, with new rockets & warheads galore

As Tehran unveiled its newest weapon, it also shared rare footage of a secretive underground complex where Iranian missiles are being built. 
It has vowed to carry on with its missile program, despite objections from the West.
Iran’s new missile was showcased on Thursday, with top military officials unveiling the weapon and, in an unprecedented move, showing the subterranean factory. 
The location of the facility was not disclosed, for obvious reasons.
The facility was described by the Iranian media as an “underground city” – and its scale appears to be quite impressive. Footage from the scene shows vast corridors, full of various missile parts, including warheads, all at different stages of assembly.
The videos also showed workers at the plant fulfilling tasks, from merely spinning nuts to fine-tuning some tiny electronic devices, thought to be parts of the missiles’ guidance system.
The new missile, called Dezful, is said to be an upgraded version of the Zolfaghar ballistic missile. 
It bo…