Israel’s prime suspect
Binyamin Netanyahu’s legal troubles are mounting
How long can the prime minister hang on?
Aug 10th 2017 | JERUSALEM
THERE seems to be no end to the legal troubles piling up around Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, his family and close circle. In the space of a week his former chief of staff, Ari Harow, signed a witness deal with the prosecutor’s office and police confirmed that they are investigating a case of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in which Mr Netanyahu is a suspect. His wife Sara has been questioned by police over allegations of misuse of public funds and his son Yair has been sued for libel over a post on Facebook.
Mr Harow, who worked with Mr Netanyahu for more than a decade, agreed to testify in return for a reduced sentence in his own trial on charges of defrauding the tax authorities. His testimony is expected to serve as evidence against Mr Netanyahu, who is suspected of receiving illicit gifts from businessmen. The prime minister is also suspected of a backroom deal in which he offered to limit the distribution of Israel Hayom (a free sheet financed by Sheldon Adelson, an American billionaire and supporter) in exchange for favourable coverage in a newspaper owned by Arnon Mozes. On August 7th Israel’s high court ruled that Mr Netanyahu must make public records of phone calls with Mr Adelson.
Harow先生与内塔尼亚胡共事十年多余，他为了减轻自己因诈取税务机关的钱财而受到的监禁指控，同意在总理的案件中作证。他的证词有望成为证实总理收受商人非法钱物的有力证据。总理同时还被指控幕后操纵限制《以色列日报》（一家由美国百万富翁Sheldon Adelson出资创办的报纸，这里的free sheet不知道是不是报纸的意思）的发行，以使得Arnon Mozes的报纸能为其说好话。8月7日，以色列高等法院裁定，内塔尼亚胡必须与阿德尔森公开通话记录。
Mr Harow may also shed light on two other, potentially more serious, investigations that involve close associates of Mr Netanyahu. His personal attorney of nearly four decades is suspected of taking bribes in return for facilitating the sale of German submarines and warships to the Israeli navy. Another former chief of staff, Shlomo Filber, was suspended from his job at the communications ministry over accusations that he provided Israel’s largest telecom company with confidential documents from which it stood to gain.（读者试译） The prime minister, so far, is not a suspect in either case.
Weekly protests aim to keep the pressure on Avichai Mandelblit, the attorney-general. Nevertheless, the investigations involving Mr Netanyahu have dragged on for over a year. Meanwhile, the prime minister and his supporters have adopted Trumpian tactics. On his social media accounts Mr Netanyahu has branded the Israeli press as “fake news”; loyalists accuse it of trying to bring down the elected government. Even right-wingers who have been critical of Mr Netanyahu in the past have fallen dutifully into line. “Neither the media, nor the protests against the attorney-general should decide, only facts [should]”, said Naftali Bennett, the education minister, who is seen as a political rival of the prime minister. “We’re supporting the Netanyahu government and my assessment is that elections will take place on time in 2019.”
每周的抗议活动是为了给司法部长Avichai Mandelblit施压。尽管如此，有关总理的调查还是拖了一年多。与此同时，总理和他的支持者们已经正式通过了特朗普策略。对于针对自己有关社交媒体的指控，总理解释，以色列新闻界传播的都是“假消息”。总理支持者则说新闻界是想推翻选举政府。就连曾经批评过总理的右翼人士这次都站出来支持前者。一直被认为是总理政治对手的教育厅长Naftali Bennett说：“媒体和抗议者都无法最终决定，只有真相才可以。”他还说：“我们现在支持总理政府，我估计2019年选举会如期举行。”
Despite the intensifying investigations, Mr Netanyahu may well hold on that long. Once the police wrap up their probes, it will be up to the attorney-general to make the call on indictments after holding hearings with the suspects. The process can take months. And even if indicted, Mr Netanyahu says he plans to remain in office and fight the charges. Under Israeli law the prime minister is not required to resign unless convicted. As long as his coalition of right-wing and religious parties sticks together, he is unlikely to be forced out before the next election.
Another former chief of staff, Shlomo Filber, was suspended from his job at the communications ministry over accusations that he provided Israel’s largest telecom company with confidential documents from which it stood to gain.
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