Benjamin Netanyahu, the great political survivor, has shirked more scandals than he’s had Shabbat dinners. But right now, you have to say, it doesn’t look good.
The Israeli prime minister never seems far from talk of deals, gifts, bribes, private spending with public money, and all manner of other sins. Bibi says he’s whiter than white, and for years nothing has stuck, but this time looks different, in part because two people who may have interesting things to say have agreed to turn state witness.
The first is a former Israeli naval head, Mickey Ganor, who worked on a mysterious $1.3billion deal for Israel’s three new German-made nuclear-powered submarines. Negotiated in complete secrecy and in super-quick time, it has raised many an eyebrow, not least because it involved Netanyahu’s cousin and personal family lawyer. What, now, will Ganor reveal?
Second, and perhaps more explosively, there is American-born Ari Harow, Bibi’s former chief of staff. He has agreed to serve only six months’ community service and pay a fine for his part in a major corruption scandal, in return for dishing the dirt. A long-time Netanyahu confidante, the question now is: what dirt?
Police are licking their lips. The charges may balloon. Bibi is already suspected of accepting expensive gifts from rich friends and having told the owner of one newspaper that he would hobble a media rival in return for favourable coverage. A third ongoing investigation involves the subs.
But even if this spells the end, it would take Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit up to six months to recommend the prime minister’s ouster following any incriminating police report, and that report isn’t expected until November at the earliest.
A week may be a long time in politics, but it is a blink of an eye to Mr Netanyahu.