Mordechai Kremnitzer, professor emeritus of law at the Hebrew University, cites in his Ha’aretz column of January 10 the old story about the man who murdered his parents and then claimed clemency in court because he was an orphan. Kremnitzer suggests that it’s an apt comment on Netanyahu calling early elections and now arguing that the attorney general mustn’t make a recommendation to indict him because there won’t be enough time to hear the case before Israelis go to the polls. The attorney general could thus influence the outcome, which, of course, would be scandalously undemocratic.
Those who suspected that the prime minister called the elections some six months before they were due to save his own skin seem to have known what was at stake: he wanted to avoid being charged with bribery, breach of trust and perhaps other offences about which he has been investigated for some time and about which there’s no end of speculations in the media and in the street.
Having previously cast aspersions on the integrity of the chief of police and his staff – and refused to extend his term of service, contrary to custom – Netanyahu is now trying to limit the work of the attorney general, even trying to force him to bend the law. The prime minister is also demanding a public confrontation with his principal accusers, i.e., his former senior staff members who, in order to save their own skins, have become witnesses for the prosecution. (So much for trusted servants.)
Thus, at the same time that the prime minister is insisting that he hasn’t done anything wrong, and while he and his spokespersons seek to divert the public’s attention by insinuating that it’s the destructive “far left” that’s bent on unseating him, this time with the help of the law, he’s also seeking to discredit the investigators and inhibiting the attorney general from carrying out his responsibilities. It’s difficult not to smell the putrid in all this.
Nevertheless, Binyamin Netanyahu is still leading in the polls. The runner up is the new, untried and tight lipped former chief of staff Benny Gantz, who so far hasn’t really told us what he stands for and what he’d do should he lead the next government. Those who support him seem to do so primarily because they’re opposed to the sitting prime minister rather than because the challenger has a more acceptable vision. The other party leaders are far behind in the polls.
Of course, things may change radically in the next four months before the elections, but as they stand now, Binyamin Netanyahu will remain prime minister, until and unless a court of law sends him to jail. He will use every opportunity to present himself as our honest and sincere protector and saviour – and the innocent victim of evil left-wing politicians and their stooges.
The election date was chosen, it seems, to follow Independence Day celebrations that will give Netanyahu an opportunity to present himself as his people’s and his country’s saviour. There was also a plan to meet President Trump in Davos a couple of weeks before the vote, but that may now not happen, because of Trump’s problems at home.
It seems, therefore, legitimate to observe that while Israeli intelligence is worried about Russia interfering in the elections, Netanyahu hopes to use Trump for that purpose. That’s apparently not scandalously undemocratic. The cynics among us may be forgiven.
Jerusalem 10.1.19 Dow Marmur