Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s foes are cheering. The prime minister’s critics weren’t able to defeat him at the ballot box over the course of his current 10-year run in power. But regardless of the merits of the accusations or the appropriateness of the announcement just weeks before the next national elections, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s announcement that he will charge Netanyahu with wrongdoing in three separate cases may well put an end to the prime minister’s long political career.
The formation of a new centrist coalition—the Blue and White Party, under the leadership of former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz—had already called into question whether Netanyahu’s Likud Party would win on April 9. But with three indictments hanging over his head and the likelihood that if Netanyahu wins, a sitting premier would be put on trial sometime during the term of the next Knesset, the case for change just got that much stronger.
There are four main takeaways from the announcement.
The first is that Netanyahu must take some responsibility for putting Israel in such an unfortunate situation through his arrogance and sense of entitlement.
The second is that the corruption allegations are, in fact, highly questionable, and it’s hard to believe they can be sustained in a fair court of law.
The third is that the process that led to indictments on the eve of an election after years of discussion and investigation was deeply flawed.
The fourth is that while Netanyahu is certainly down, he’s by no means out.
The first point to be considered is that while the prime minister and many of his supporters may consider him to be irreplaceable, after a decade leading the country, he has clearly overstayed his welcome.
The case for term limits for leaders of nations is persuasive. The charges against the prime minister, even if they should never have been pursued as a criminal matter, speak to a certain arrogance and sense of entitlement that is inevitable when the occupant, as well as their families and underlings, start thinking they are untouchable.
That is certainly the case with Netanyahu. He’s served four terms as prime minister, including the last three in a row, and for all of his brilliance, masterminding and achievements, his act long ago starting wearing thin. The era in which Israel was run by ascetic leaders who lived and acted in a modest manner appropriate to a nation built on pioneering values—David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin wouldn’t have been caught dead accepting cigars and champagne by the caseload from wealthy admirers, as Netanyahu has done—has long been over, but that doesn’t excuse the Netanyahu clan’s often inappropriate behavior.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jonathan S. Tobin