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What does Netanyahu Stand to Lose after this Election?

By Catherine Clough

As Israel figures out what kind of government will be formed in the wake of its second election this year, it’s hard to tell what the ultimate outcome will be. However, it’s important to keep in mind why Netanyahu is so desperate to retain the Prime Minister's seat. Netanyahu, who has survived scandal after scandal, now seems to have run out of luck.

First, his ​wife was called insane ​by one of his key supporters, Sheldon Adelson. Then one of his critical foreign allies, Donald Trump, publicly said he is willing to meet with Iranian President Rouhani, the leader of Iran, Israel's most threatening rival. This undermined Netanyahu’s claim to voters that his close ties to Donald Trump influence US foreign policy in favor of Israel. Then, to rub salt in his already open wound, at an election rally Netanyahu was forced to flee from his fans as Hamas fired rockets at him.

However, as easy as it is to forget in light of recent events, Netanyahu is facing multiple

criminal charges. Netanyahu is literally fighting for his freedom, and now that ​he has failed to form a government​, it’s important to evaluate the charges against him. Especially after Sara Netanyahu pled guilty to corruption charges in June.

The first charge against Netanyahu is called ​Case 1000.​ This case alleges that the Netanyahus received multiple gifts worth thousands of shekels from several billionaires. While it would be nice if these gifts came with no strings attached, it is alleged that these gifts were used as bribes to get political favors.

The second charge is ​Case 2000​. This case alleges that the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth was bribed by Netanyahu to hire journalists that would cover him more favorably. Netanyahu has been recorded talking to the editor Arnon Mozes about pushing legislation to help weaken Israel Hayom, Yedioth Ahronoth's main rival.

The third charge, ​Case 4000​, is considered the most serious. It’s another bribery charge, but this time Netanyahu is the one who is taking the bribe. He also faces the possibility of being charged with fraud, breach of trust, and aggregated and fraudulent receiving. In the simplest terms, this case alleges that Netanyahu fired Communications Ministry director-general Avi Berger, then hired Shlomo Filber, who recently turned state's witness. Filber ensured that government policy was always in favor of the media conglomerate Bezeq. The owner of Bezeq, in turn, made sure that Netanyahu and his wife were given positive coverage on the popular website Walla, which is owned by Bezeq.

What does this mean in light of the recent elections? It means that Netanyahu is literally fighting for his freedom. If Netanyahu does not maintain a meaningful position in Israeli politics, he will likely be indicted on these charges and faces the real possibility of jail time. The fact that his wife has already pled guilty makes this possibility all the more real. Thus, the lengths Netanyahu has gone to during this election make sense. Many of the things that Netanyahu has proposed in the last couple of months sound insane to any reasonable person, but to the man whose back is against the wall, it’s a Hail Mary.

Catherine Clough is a freshman at the School of International Service. She plans to minor in Israel Studies.

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