Close to becoming Israel's longest-serving prime minister, Netanyahu faces several corruption accusations and a recent high-level defection from his flock could mean that his troubles have multiplied.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s falling out with American Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who also owns Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom, has added more trouble to the Zionist leader who is embroiled in a series of high-profile corruption allegations.
Adelson is one of the biggest donors of US Republican Party. He recently disclosed to Israeli investigators that Netanyahu held talks with Arnon Mozes, the publisher of Israel's largest newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, to impose a ban on the free distribution of newspapers. The ban would impact Adelson's Israel Hayom, which is being distributed for free.
Netanyahu reportedly asked Mozes for more favourable coverage of his personality and party. His shady deals with Mozes have been the main subject of Case 2000, a corruption investigation against the Israeli prime minister.
But corruption accusations against Netanyahu are not limited to media scandals and Case 2000. He is also facing several corruption accusations connected to other probes, which are dubbed Case 1000 and Case 4000.
Case 1000 is looking at the Likud leader’s dealings with billionaires, who sought favours in return for kickbacks and benefits to Netanyahu and his wife Sara.
Arnon Milchan, a trusted friend to Netanyahu and Hollywood producer, is one of the wealthy men who has business dealings with Netanyahu.
Milchan also testified to investigators about an incident which happened during a family dinner attended by both Adelson and his wife Miriam Adelson, along with Netanyahu and his wife in the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem.
According to Milchan, Sara was having dinner with Miriam Adelson, who is a co-publisher of Israel Hayom, and wanted her to fire Amos Regev, the paper's chief editor, because he wasn't defending “the daily slander against her in the newspapers and the media”.
Both Adelsons were very upset about the prime minister's wife’s demand and behaviour.
“She tossed around very rude comments about how Miri might be having an affair with Amos. It indeed was a very rude comment. I intended to get up and go at that instant — but Miri didn’t want to,” Adelson told interrogators, referring to his wife Miriam as Miri.
Beside Case 1000 and Case 2000, the potentially most damaging investigation against the prime minister is Case 4000, which accuses Netanyahu of promoting regulatory acts favouring Shaul Elovitch, the biggest shareholder in the Bezeq telecom company.
The firm is one of the leading telecommunications service providers in Israel. According to the investigation, Netanyahu sought favourable coverage from the Walla news site owned by Elovitch in exchange for benefitting the company with state contracts.
In order to prevent any possible conviction, Netanyahu is currently seeking to enact a controversial law that could bring him immunity.
In addition to the proposed bill, David Bitan, one of Netanyahu’s enablers in the Israeli parliament Knesset, is seeking the signature of all members of the Likud Party for a petition, which certifies approval of the members for Netanyahu’s being the only candidate for the premiership in the upcoming rerun elections in September.
“The Likud Party officially became Netanyahu’s puppet party yesterday. The same puppets signed a document yesterday declaring that they had lost all ideology, independent thought – and in particular preferred their loyalty to Netanyahu over their loyalty to the State of Israel and its citizens,” said opposition Democratic Union leaders in a joint statement on August 5.
Avigdar Liberman, the former ally of Netanyahu, also compared the prime minister’s political style to that of North Korea, a communist dictatorship.