The police investigations of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his family, and his close aides continue to draw attention. Netanyahu seems determined to divert attention away from the current police investigations into his affairs by pushing drastic legislation that pits Israelis against each other and undermines Israel’s democratic institutions.
With the holidays over, the Knesset Winter Session convenes next week. Likud members are planning new legislation to prevent more police investigations, to curb freedom of expression, and to torpedo peace prospects with the Palestinians by building settlements and extending Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.
Meanwhile, his wife Sara is expected to be indicted for misuse of public funds. The prime minister himself is being questioned in three corruption probes. One concerns gifts from rich donors, another case addresses the positive coverage in Yedioth Ahronoth that Netanyahu arranged in exchange for undermining a rival newspaper, and the final case concerns corruption in the procurement of German submarines.
The Prime Minister’s defense is to characterize these investigations as a media witch-hunt. In a Facebook post, he attacked the police for its “tsunami of leaks.”
In an op-ed in Haaretz this week titled, “The Right-Wing Assault on Israeli Democracy,” Chemi Shalev described Netanyahu’s efforts to save himself from indictments. He wrote, “A frantic and haunted prime minister waging a personal vendetta against the media and the legal system for his own survival is a crucial element in the anti-democratic revolution.”
Shalev added that “the reported plan to declare the anti-occupation NGO Breaking the Silence illegal is an indication of Israel’s heavy-handed government and of its weakened democracy.”
“Every time the prime minister sinks deeper into the mud of the criminal investigations, he searches for enemies and uses IDF soldiers that broke their silence and oppose the occupation as a human shield against the public consequences of his criminal entanglements,” Breaking the Silence Executive Director Avner Gvaryahu said.
He added, “This is yet another pitiful witch-hunt from a right-wing government that knows its days are numbered. Neither a commission of inquiry nor legislation will deter us. There is only one way to stop Breaking the Silence: end the occupation.”