As we reported last night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been close to coming under criminal investigation from police in two different cases. As expected, moments ago the Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit accepted the police’s request to investigate Netanyahu in two different criminal cases.
The Times of Israel reports that Netanyahu will be called in for questioning by the police in the coming days.
On Monday, December 26th, Israeli police announced that they had received new and important documents related to a secret inquiry of the Prime Minister’s activities that began over 9 months ago. With the new documents in possession, the police said they were “absolutely convinced” that a criminal investigation would be opened. And as they said, that time has now come.
Benjamin Netanyahu is allegedly facing criminal charges of bribery and aggravated-fraud, according to the police report.
The two cases will be related to allegations that Netanyahu accepted 1 million euros from accused French conman Arnaud Mimran in 2009 and in Netanyahu’s role in a Defense Ministry deal to purchase submarines from a German company that is partly owned by the Iranian government.
A spokesman for Netanyahu defended the Prime Minister and completely dismissing the findings by telling The Times of Israel, “This is absolutely false. There was nothing and there will be nothing.”
The criminal investigation of the Prime Minister comes at a very interesting time. John Kerry today just made his speech, outlining Washington’s support for a two-state solution that brings peace to both Israelis and Palestinians. The United States shocked the world last week when they abstained from vetoing the United Nations resolution that seeks to stop Israeli construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Perhaps the U.S. knew that these criminal investigations of Netanyahu were drawing near and are seeking to distance themselves from the controversial Israeli Prime Minister. Or perhaps the Obama administration is looking to salvage any and everything they can around the issue of peace in the middle east. Certainly, after the embarrassing defeat in Aleppo, Syria, the current administration has every motivation to end on a positive note before Trump comes into office in late January.
Additionally, Benjamin Netanyahu just told New Zealand’s Foreign Minister that New Zealand’s opposition vote to Israel’s stance is “a declaration of war.”
However, what is most interesting about this latest development is what Trump and Netanyahu’s relationship, as well as the U.S. and Israeli relationship will transform into. Trump and Netanyahu have made it clear that they are friends and support each other’s objectives. If “Bibi” is found guilty of these two crimes then, will Trump continue to support Netanyahu? Will he continue to support Israel? Will Trump be forced to abandon his friendship because of outside pressure from the public that would inevitably arise if Netanyahu is criminally charged?
It will be interesting to see how both Trump and Netanyahu respond to the two new criminal investigations. Will Trump also follow suit in distancing himself from “Bibi” or will he continue to support the Prime Minister, regardless? Times are quickly changing. At minimum, U.S. and Israeli relations are sure to continue to go under massive transformation in the weeks ahead.