Israeli PM Netanyahu faces imminent indictment for bribery, corruption, and breach of public trust
Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has made it all but official. In informing Prime Minister’s Netanyahu’s legal team that he saw no impediments to submitting a conditional indictment against him for charges of corruption and betrayal of public trust before the April 9th election, Mandelblit has signaled that such an indictment is indeed forthcoming. In Israel, indictments against public figures such as Netanyahu are conditional upon the results of a hearing in which both the defendant and the State can argue against and for proceeding to trial. Such a hearing will undoubtedly take place only after the election, as Netanyahu’s legal team is sure to request months to study the materials in the indictment documents.
This means that for the first time in history the reigning prime minister, and the head of the largest party running for reelection will be doing so under the cloud of a conditional felony indictment. The question now is whether the fact of the indictment, once it actually comes out, will move the polls, or, as is Netanyahu’s hope, the current public opinion polls in which Netanyahu and the Likud maintain their electoral lead, already have the indictment “baked in”. One thing is for certain: the indictment will be a litmus test for which party sees itself as a potential coalition partner for the Likud and which does not. Those who would like a seat at the table in Netanyahu’s next government, should this become a reality, will be quite careful with their language, while those who wish to replace him will undoubtedly use the indictment as a potent political weapon.