Corruption at the top
November 30, 2018
More than a week ago, the police recommended indictments on a half-dozen of prominent Israelis. The issue concerned the purchase of submarines and other warships from Thyssen Krupp a German firm in the port of Kiel. Involved in the police recommendation were a cousin and attorney of the prime minister, a former head of Israel’s Navy, and several others who held positions close to the top. Details were supplied by a confidant of them all, who had provided information, including recordings, that linked them to maneuvers that moved Israel’s purchases from a Korean firm to the German.
So far it’s a case that does not involve the prime minister. He’s busy with three others, involving gifts, an effort to get the publisher of Yedioth Aharonoth to lessen his attacks, and dealings with the head of Israel’s major telecommunications firm.
Opposing politicians are doing their best to make the point that if the PM did not know about his cousin and friends dealing underhandedly, he wasn’t a decent prime minister.
The PM and his supporters, including some of those being charged, are insisting that he knew nothing. One shows the PM waving to a group of those close to him, while they are being led away, handcuffed, by the police. The other has Bibi saying, What corruption? It’s difficult to believe.
The police took more than a year sifting through evidence, and finding a turncoat after a reporter from one of the news programs laid out much of the case. Now the prosecutor will take some time before an indictment. And it’s still pondering the three other cases against the prime minister, as well as dealing with separate charges against Sara. All told, more than two years and still counting.
Meanwhile, son Yair is in the news for instigating a suit against the driver who recorded his and his friends’ remarks. The event occurred a year ago and including Yair with friends between strip tease shows, having a bit of alcohol, and speaking of girls they would trade among themselves for sexual favors.
According to the suit, the driver violated the secrecy that was meant to prevail, and caused Yair problems in getting out of the house for private and public engagements. Yair’s dad has said that he would be willing to give up the job of prime minister, but that there is no one to replace him.
It’s time to remind him that cemeteries are filled with the irreplaceable.
Meanwhile, there was an escalation in the south. It came with the response of Gazans to a disguised operation, apparently one of many, that produced the death of a Druze Lt. Colonel and the wounding of another Druze officer. In response there began an increasing tit for tat that produced casualties on both sides.
The IDF was neither neat nor quick in describing what had happened. The dead soldier is identified only as Lt. Col. M. Social media has identified him as Muhammad, and the other wounded officer also as Muhammad. The dead officer has been widely praised for his heroism on this operation and others. Apparently there was a group of soldiers dressed as Arabs, intent on something, who were uncovered and had to be rescued by helicopter.
The process occurred in what seemed like a move toward quiet, if not peace. Some $15 million had been transferred from Qatar to Gaza for the payment of salaries, and there was a moderation of border demonstrations.
In this, the prime minister has demonstrated a coolness, separated from the commotions focused on him, his wife and son.
Once again, he lead his government to accept a cease fire, back to square one, nothing accomplished with respect to Gaza. That produced the resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, long on the outs with the prime minister and the heads of the IDF with respect to Lieberman’s preference for a forceful action against Gaza.
That resignation reduced the coalition’s weight to 61 Knesset Members, a bare majority of the 120-seat Knesset. Then Jewish Home issued an ultimatum: either the prime minister appoint Naftaly Bennett as defense minister, or Jewish Home would leave the government.
We’re waiting to see how this will play out. Currently it looks like we’re heading for an election. When is yet to be determined.
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Ira Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science and public administration at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is a prolific author on policy and politics in Israel and the United States. He regularly blogs for The Jerusalem Post and San Diego Jewish World.