Much more at stake than PM’s future in Israel’s political crisis

Israeli police recommended charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust on February 13, after an investigation that began in 2016. Now, the spotlight is on Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, who must decide whether to issue a formal indictment against a man who has become virtually synonymous with modern Israeli politics.

If the government survives until the northern summer of next year, Netanyahu will become Israel’s longest-serving leader. It is far from certain he will last until then.

Since returning as Prime Minister in March 2009 — he first held the job from June 1996 until July 1999 — Netanyahu has overseen unprecedented economic growth and a series of diplomatic feats. At the same time, extreme divisiveness has become a hallmark of his tenure, and the drumbeat of potential war in Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza has grown deafening. How Netanyahu’s predicament plays out will dictate which narrative prevails.

The just-completed police inquiries — codenamed “Case 1000” and “Case 2000” — are not the only legal challenges Netanyahu faces; other corruption probes are ongoing. The ripple effect of these scandals — which include allegations of accepting about $US300,000 in gifts over the course of a decade — could engulf an already-fragile political dynamic in Israel, where rivals within Netanyahu’s coalition hold tremendous sway over him and his Likud faction.

Read the article by Shalom Lipner in The Australian.