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Just like America, Zionist Israel has a bent, corrupt leader…


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Author Topic: Just like America, Zionist Israel has a bent, corrupt leader…  (Read 166 times)
Kiwithrottlejockey
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« on: February 11, 2018, 01:57:50 pm »


from The New York Times....

Netanyahu Lashes Out as Israeli Police Wrap Up Graft Inquiries

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused a police chief of “mendacious” insinuations against him.
Critics say he is trying to discredit the investigations.


By ISABEL KERSHNER | Thursday, February 08, 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel with his wife, Sara, in Davos, Switzerland, in January. He faces two corruption investigations. — Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel with his wife, Sara, in Davos, Switzerland, in January. He faces two corruption investigations.
 — Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.


JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has lashed out at the country's police chief, whom he accused of airing “delusional and mendacious” insinuations against him, just days before the police are expected to publish recommendations regarding potential charges against Mr. Netanyahu in two corruption investigations, possibly including bribery.

“Any fair-minded person will ask themselves how people who say such delusional things about the prime minister can investigate him objectively and make recommendations in his case without bias,” Mr. Netanyahu wrote in a Facebook post after midnight on Wednesday.

“A large shadow has been cast this evening over the police investigations and recommendations in the case of Prime Minister Netanyahu,” he added.

Critics said Mr. Netanyahu, now in his third consecutive term in office, was trying to discredit the police in order to delegitimize investigations that could undermine his political future.

“Clearly it is unjustified,” Barak Medina, a professor in the law faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said of the attack on the police commissioner, Roni Alsheich. “The prime minister is trying to create a spin and present himself as the victim.”

Like other observers, Mr. Medina drew comparisons to President Trump's criticism of the F.B.I. and Justice Department amid investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election campaign.

In a second Facebook post on Thursday afternoon, Mr. Netanyahu denied any personal attack on Mr. Alsheich. “The real question is the purity of the investigation,” he wrote. “The allegations that were aired are grave and should keep any decent person awake at night.”

He made his criticisms after Mr. Alsheich said in a lengthy television interview on Wednesday that private detectives working on behalf of “powerful” people had been gathering information about investigators working on the Netanyahu files, sniffing around their relatives and neighbors and asking questions.

Though he did not directly accuse the prime minister of involvement, Mr. Alsheich did little to push back when his interviewer suggested that the private detectives were acting on behalf of politicians.

“Ultimately,” he added, “we know who these people are. Apparently somebody has to pay them, and therefore this disturbs us greatly.”

Mr. Alsheich has said that after he went public, some months ago, about what he described as “pressures” applied to the investigators by those collecting information on them, the activity stopped. Mr. Alsheich said on Wednesday that these were not “rumors or blah blah blah,” but “facts.”

Mr. Netanyahu excoriated Mr. Alsheich for “repeating the delusional and mendacious insinuation that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent private detectives against police officers investigating him.”

In the interview broadcast on the respected magazine program “Uvda” — an Israeli equivalent of “60 Minutes” — Mr. Alsheich also defended the leader of the police anti-corruption unit, Roni Ritman, who has been accused of sexual harassment and recently stepped down.

Mr. Netanyahu also struck back at this part of the conversation, although his name once again went unmentioned.

He wrote of Mr. Alsheich, “It is shocking to discover that he is repeating to journalists the no less ludicrous and false insinuation of Ritman, as if the prime minister was involved in the complaint” against the investigations unit chief. Mr. Netanyahu and his lawyer have called for a swift inquiry into the claims they said Mr. Alsheich had implied.

The extraordinary clash came amid reports in Israel that the police were likely to present conclusions during the next week regarding the evidentiary basis for charges in two graft cases against Mr. Netanyahu.

In the first, known as Case 1000, investigators are looking at whether Mr. Netanyahu offered favors in return for gifts of expensive cigars, pink Champagne and other goods from wealthy friends, including an Israeli Hollywood producer, Arnon Milchan.

The second, Case 2000, involves back-room dealings with a local newspaper magnate. Mr. Netanyahu was recorded negotiating for favorable coverage with the publisher of a newspaper that had often criticized him, Yedioth Ahronoth, in exchange for curtailing the circulation of a free competitor, Israel Hayom, financed by the American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

The police have been investigating Mr. Netanyahu on suspicion of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, according to the Israeli authorities.

Mr. Netanyahu has already tried to prepare the public for the likelihood that the police will recommend charges, suggesting that such a move would be meaningless, since, he said, only about half of police recommendations resulted in formal charges.

A final decision regarding any indictment of Mr. Netanyahu is likely to be months away and would lie with the attorney general, after consultations with the state prosecutor.

Earlier on Wednesday night, Mr. Netanyahu posted a video on his Facebook page in which he told his supporters not to worry.

“There will be recommendations, there will also be signs saying, ‘Bibi is guilty until proven innocent’, and invalid pressures,” he said. “But I am sure that at the end of the day the authorized legal bodies will come to the same conclusion, to the simple truth: There is nothing.”

Mr. Netanyahu appointed Mr. Alsheich as police commissioner about two years ago, and praised him at the time as a “creative, original and determined commander who is not afraid to take the initiative.”

The relationship has soured since the investigations began. In October, Mr. Netanyahu attacked Mr. Alsheich and blamed the police for what he called a “tsunami” of leaks about the investigations. Mr. Alsheich denied that the police had been the source of the leaks.

David Amsalem, the coalition chairman for Mr. Netanyahu's right-wing Likud Party, accused the police of attempting a coup.

“When people are being murdered in the streets,” he said on Army Radio, “it is more important than the prime minister having received a cigar.”

Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist party Yesh Atid and a challenger for the post of prime minister, described Mr. Netanyahu's attack on the police chief as “a desperate act of a person under investigation who has decided to exploit his lofty position to threaten the rule of law and cast aspersions on the police, who protect us all.”

Avi Gabbay, leader of the center-left Labor Party, called Mr. Netanyahu's attack “unprecedented” and “illegitimate.”

Asked by the television interviewer, Ilana Dayan, a veteran investigative journalist, if the Israeli public would be surprised by the police findings, Mr. Alsheich replied, “There will be some people who will say, ‘Wait a moment, this is not what we thought’.”

As for the idea that he could end up being remembered as the police chief who brought down a sitting prime minister, Mr. Alsheich said, “I don't like it, but that's my job.”


__________________________________________________________________________

• Isabel Kershner is a correspondent in Jerusalem for The New York Times covering Israeli and Palestinian politics and society, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and diplomatic efforts to resolve it. Since joining The N.Y. Times' Jerusalem bureau in 2007 she has covered Israel's wars with Gaza, the failed efforts at peacemaking and the often fraught, internal divisions and culture wars that shape the lives of Israelis and Palestinians. These include the struggles over the land in the West Bank; the Palestinian political schism; and Israel's religious battles within itself and the Jewish world, including the case of a gutsy octogenarian woman who sued El Al, Israel's national airline, to establish new, non-discriminatory guidelines for seat switching to accommodate ultra-Orthodox male passengers. A fluent Hebrew speaker with working Arabic, she has been reporting on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide since 1990, previously working for The Jerusalem Report magazine. She is the author of Barrier: The Seam of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Palgrave Macmillan 2005). Born and raised in Manchester, England, she graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Oriental Studies.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • As Netanyahu Investigators Close In, Some Ask: How Long Can He Hold On?

 • Benjamin Netanyahu Sought Deal With Hostile Newspaper, TV Report Says

 • Benjamin Netanyahu Questioned in Israel Graft Inquiry


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/08/world/middleeast/israel-netanyahu-police.html
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« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2018, 10:45:12 am »


from The New York Times....

Netanyahu Should Be Charged With Bribery and Fraud, Israeli Police Say

The charges, which would be the first against a sitting prime minister,
raised immediate doubts about his ability to stay in power.


By DAVID M. HALBFINGER and ISABEL KERSHNER | 6:14PM EST — Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday. — Photograph: Pool image by Ronen Zvulun.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday. — Photograph: Pool image by Ronen Zvulun.

JERUSALEM — The Israeli police recommended on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, casting a pall over the future of a tenacious leader who has become almost synonymous with his country. The announcement instantly raised doubts about his ability to stay in office.

Concluding a year-long graft investigation, the police recommended that Mr. Netanyahu face prosecution in two corruption cases: a gifts-for-favors affair known as Case 1000, and a second scandal, dubbed Case 2000, in which Mr. Netanyahu is suspected of back-room dealings with Arnon Mozes, publisher of the popular daily Yediot Aharonot, to ensure more favorable coverage.


Arnon Mozes, publisher of the popular daily Yediot Aharonot, last year. — Photograph: Reuters.
Arnon Mozes, publisher of the popular daily Yediot Aharonot, last year. — Photograph: Reuters.

All told, the police accused Mr. Netanyahu of accepting nearly $300,000 in gifts over 10 years.

Mr. Netanyahu, addressing the nation live on television shortly before the police released their findings around 9 p.m., made clear that he would not step down. “I feel a deep obligation to continue to lead Israel in a way that will ensure our future,” he said, before embarking on a 12-minute defense of his conduct.

“You know I do everything with only one thing in mind — the good of the country,” he said. “Not for cigars from a friend, not for media coverage, not for anything. Only for the good of the state. Nothing has made me deviate, or will make me deviate, from this sacred mission.”

The police recommendations must now be examined by state prosecutors and the attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit. The final decision about whether to file formal charges lies with Mr. Mandelblit and is subject to a hearing beforehand with Mr. Netanyahu's lawyers. Reaching that threshold alone could easily take months.

According to the police, expensive cigars, jewelry and pink champagne flowed into the prime minister's official Jerusalem residence in quantities sufficient to stock a small cocktail lounge. The generous patrons included Arnon Milchan, the Israeli movie producer, and James Packer, an Australian billionaire.


Arnon Milchan attending CinemaCon in 2016, in Las Vegas. — Photograph: Todd Williamson/Getty Images.
Arnon Milchan attending CinemaCon in 2016, in Las Vegas. — Photograph: Todd Williamson/Getty Images.

But it is the favors Mr. Netanyahu may have given his wealthy friends in return that could herald his downfall. A formal bribery charge would be by far the most serious outcome, and the most ominous for his political survival.

Mr. Netanyahu is serving his third consecutive term since his election in 2009, and his fourth overall since the 1990s. If he were to remain in the post through July 2019, he would set a record for total time in office, surpassing that of the state's founder, David Ben-Gurion.

Mr. Netanyahu has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and has vowed to fight on, saying that no police recommendation would prompt his resignation.

His longevity attests to his political agility and to his perfection of a campaigning and governing style in which he casts his political foes and critics as enemies of the broader body politic. Though he has formed previous ruling coalitions with those to his left, his current government is often described as the most right-wing and religious in Israel's history. And he has presided over an increasingly bitter relationship with the Palestinians in the territories Israel has occupied for more than a half-century, whose hopes of soon gaining a state of their own have dwindled as Israeli settlements expand.

But while Mr. Netanyahu has prepared the public for this moment for months, and made strenuous efforts to discredit those investigating him, he has not prepared Israel or his government for the possibility that he may be unable to continue to lead. He has designated no successor, and no single member of his own coalition has emerged as ready to step into his shoes. Meanwhile, a centrist opposition, led by Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party, has been gaining strength.

In a twist straight out of a political thriller, a key witness against Mr. Netanyahu, according to Israeli news reports on Tuesday night, turned out to be Mr. Lapid himself, who had been Mr. Netanyahu's finance minister in a previous coalition.

According to a police statement about their recommendations, Mr. Netanyahu promoted the extension of a 10-year tax exemption to expatriate Israelis returning to the country, “a benefit that has great economic value for Milchan,” who has long worked in Hollywood. But the Finance Ministry blocked this legislation, saying it was against the national interest and fiscally unsound.

The Israeli law enforcement authorities have handled the cases with great caution, wary of the possibility of bringing down a prime minister who might then be proved not guilty in court, not least with Israel facing increasing security threats on its northern and southern frontiers.

But Israel's constant state of alert has led some critics to argue all the more that a prime minister so focused on fighting his own legal battles cannot be entrusted with fateful decisions of peace and war.

Opposition politicians pounced on Tuesday night, demanding that Mr. Netanyahu step down, be ousted by his coalition, or at least declare himself “incapacitated,” as former Prime Minister Ehud Barak urged on Twitter, calling the police findings “hair-raising.”

“Most of you are honest people,” Stav Shaffir, of the left-leaning Zionist Union party, wrote on Twitter, addressing Mr. Netanyahu's coalition. “If you have a drop of concern for the future, fulfill your obligation. Free Israel from this madness.”

But some coalition members decried both the investigation and Mr. Lapid's role in it. “In a democracy, a regime is changed in an election and not through the army or police,” the coalition’s chairman, Dudi Amsalem, told Walla News.

Seeking to show that he was undaunted, Mr. Netanyahu announced that he would attend a conference of local authorities in Tel Aviv on Wednesday morning.

Mr. Netanyahu long ago earned the nickname “the Magician” for his uncanny knack for political endurance, and even his most ardent opponents have been hesitant to write him off.

At what point he might be legally required to step down, short of a final conviction, is likely to be a matter of increasingly heated debate, though public opinion and political pressure could in the end play a decisive role.

Israel's Supreme Court has ruled in the past that government ministers or deputy ministers, once indicted, may not remain in their posts. Whether that principle should also apply to the elected prime minister is an open question.

Mr. Netanyahu would be something of a test case as Israel's first sitting prime minister to be formally charged.

His predecessor, Ehud Olmert, announced his resignation in September 2008, a week after the police recommended he be charged with bribery, breach of trust, money laundering and fraudulent receipt of goods. That case involved an American businessman and a travel-expense scandal from Mr. Olmert's days as mayor of Jerusalem and minister of industry and trade.

Mr. Olmert was eventually convicted in various cases and served 19 months of a 27-month prison sentence. He was released last year.

Pre-empting the police recommendations, Mr. Netanyahu told the public to expect them and did his best to minimize their importance.

“Any fair-minded person will ask themselves how people who say such delusional things about the prime minister can investigate him objectively and make recommendations in his case without bias,” he wrote on a Facebook post last week, accusing the police commissioner, Roni Alsheich, of having an agenda.

In December, Mr. Netanyahu told a gathering of his right-wing Likud Party supporters: “The vast majority of police recommendations end in nothing. Over 60 percent of the police recommendations are thrown in the trash. Over 60 percent of the police recommendations don't get to an indictment.”

Experts have disputed those figures, however, and the prime minister's opponents have begun quoting from an interview he gave in 2008, at the height of Mr. Olmert's legal troubles, to turn the tables on Mr. Netanyahu.

Describing Mr. Olmert as “up to his neck in investigations,” Mr. Netanyahu said of his political rival at the time: “He does not have a public or moral mandate to determine such fateful matters for the state of Israel when there is the fear, and I have to say it is real and not without basis, that he will make decisions based on his personal interest in political survival and not based on the national interest.”

In some ways, though, Mr. Netanyahu has been here before.

During his first term in office, in the late 1990s, the police recommended that he be charged with fraud and breach of trust in a complicated case in which Mr. Netanyahu was suspected of acting to appoint an attorney general who would be sympathetic to a minister under investigation for corruption, in return for that minister's political support. Ultimately, the attorney general closed that case, citing a lack of evidence.

Again, in March 2000, once Mr. Netanyahu was out of office, the police recommended that he be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in a case involving his holding on to $100,000 in gifts that were state property and having the state pay for private work on his home. Months later, the attorney general also ordered that case closed.

This time around, the police recruited a state's witness, Ari Harow, Mr. Netanyahu's former chief of staff and once one of his closest confidants.

The police have also been making headway in other criminal investigations in which Mr. Netanyahu has not been named as a subject, but that involve associates from his most inner circle. His wife already faces criminal charges of sneaking $100,000 in catered meals into the prime minister's residence.

But a potentially far more explosive scandal, called Case 3000, involves a $2 billion deal for the purchase of submarines and missile ships from a German supplier. Critics have described that episode as perhaps the biggest corruption case in Israeli history, touching on deep conflicts of interest and national security.

Among those caught up in the shipping investigation are David Shimron, Mr. Netanyahu's personal lawyer and second cousin, and Yitzhak Molcho, Mr. Netanyahu's lifelong friend and close adviser, whom he has sent on his most delicate diplomatic missions since the 1990s. Mr. Molcho and Mr. Shimron are partners in a law firm as well as brothers-in-law.

Another possible case may be brewing over suspicions of the exchange of benefits in return for favorable media coverage between Mr. Netanyahu and a close friend who owns Bezeq, Israel's telecommunications giant.


__________________________________________________________________________

Irit Pazner Garshowitz and Myra Noveck contributed research for this story.

• David M. Halbfinger is the Jerusalem bureau chief of The New York Times. He covers Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories and the Middle East. Before taking up his post in 2017, Mr. Halbfinger spent four years as metro political editor, deputy metro editor, presidential campaign editor and then deputy national editor, posts in which he oversaw political reporting in the New York area, managed the political reporters covering the 2016 presidential campaign, and helped lead coverage of the United States. As a N.Y. Times reporter from 1997 to 2013, Mr. Halbfinger frequently gravitated toward political and investigative reporting while ranging from Manhattan and the Bronx to posts as bureau chief in Long Island, Trenton and Atlanta, and as a Hollywood correspondent in Los Angeles. He also covered the 2004 presidential campaign of John Kerry. He was a winner of the Jesse Laventhol Prize for deadline news reporting by a team for his coverage of the explosion of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003. Before coming to The New York Times, Mr. Halbfinger worked at The Boston Globe, New York Newsday and The Philadelphia Business Journal. He received a bachelor's degree in English from Yale. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and three children.

• Isabel Kershner is a correspondent in Jerusalem for The New York Times covering Israeli and Palestinian politics and society, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and diplomatic efforts to resolve it. Since joining The N.Y. Times' Jerusalem bureau in 2007 she has covered Israel's wars with Gaza, the failed efforts at peacemaking and the often fraught, internal divisions and culture wars that shape the lives of Israelis and Palestinians. These include the struggles over the land in the West Bank; the Palestinian political schism; and Israel's religious battles within itself and the Jewish world, including the case of a gutsy octogenarian woman who sued El Al, Israel's national airline, to establish new, non-discriminatory guidelines for seat switching to accommodate ultra-Orthodox male passengers. A fluent Hebrew speaker with working Arabic, she has been reporting on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide since 1990, previously working for The Jerusalem Report magazine. She is the author of Barrier: The Seam of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Palgrave Macmillan 2005). Born and raised in Manchester, England, she graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Oriental Studies.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/13/world/middleeast/netanyahu-israel-corruption.html
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« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2018, 10:50:07 am »


from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times....

Israeli premier faces new legal issue

Benjamin Netanyahu calls arrests of several close associates ‘a contrived bubble’.

By NOGA TARNOPOLSKY | Monday, February 19, 2018

Israelis protest in Tel Aviv on Friday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after police recommended he be indicted on several corruption charges. — Photograph: Jack Guez/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
Israelis protest in Tel Aviv on Friday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after police recommended he be indicted on several corruption charges.
 — Photograph: Jack Guez/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.


JERUSALEM — Less than one week after Israeli police recommended that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on several corruption charges, a new legal minefield has opened up beneath his feet.

Seven Israelis were arrested on Sunday in what the police call “Case 4000,” a new investigation in which members of Netanyahu's inner-most circle are suspected of intervening with regulators to help the Bezeq group, an Israeli communications giant then run by a close friend of the prime minister, in exchange for favorable coverage of Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, on a news portal owned by the company.

Though Netanayhu has not been named as a suspect in the case, numerous Israeli news outlets reported on Sunday that he is expected to be questioned “under caution,” a term used for suspects in criminal cases.

The names of those arrested were not officially announced. But for about an hour before the imposition of a gag order on all details of the investigation, the Haaretz news website reported that they included Nir Hefetz, a close friend of the Netanyahus and the prime minister's former communications director, and Shlomo Filber, a Netanyahu associate who served as director general of the Communications Ministry.

Sunday's revelations came only five days after the police announced their recommendation, presented to the attorney general, that Netanyahu be indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two unrelated cases in which Netanyahu is alleged to have inappropriately given associates political favors.

From Germany, where he was attending the annual Munich Security Conference, Netanyahu said the arrests of members of his close circle revealed “yet another futile investigation, a contrived bubble that will burst.”

Netanyahu has been in Germany since Thursday, holding meetings with world leaders and acting outwardly as if nothing is amiss.

He addressed the plenum on Sunday. Brandishing the large shard of what he said was an Iranian drone downed on February 10 by the Israeli air force, he said that “Israel will not allow the Iranian regime to put a noose of terror around our neck.”

The drone's incursion into Israeli skies precipitated an exchange of fire that resulted in the loss of an Israeli F-16 that was downed by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile. It was the first loss of an Israeli fighter jet since 1982.

Speaking directly to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was in the audience, Netanyahu asked, “Do you recognize it? You should. It's yours. Don't test us.”


In Munich, Netanyahu holds what he said was part of an Iranian drone shot down in Israeli airspace. — Photograph: Lennart Preiss/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
In Munich, Netanyahu holds what he said was part of an Iranian drone shot down in Israeli airspace.
 — Photograph: Lennart Preiss/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.


Speaking a few hours later, Zarif ridiculed what he called Netanyahu's “cartoonish circus.”

Such an international venue is familiar ground for the Israeli leader, who has dominated Israeli politics for the last decade.

Tal Schneider, the political analyst for the Israeli financial daily Globes, who accompanied Netanyahu to Munich, said the prime minister “appeared unruffled, projecting that business is as usual, carrying on with scheduled meetings.”

As he departed from Munich, Netanyahu refused to answer questions from Israeli reporters about the criminal investigations that surround him.

The Israeli public, however, appears to be asking the same questions. Three polls published before the weekend show many Israelis believe the police version of events rather than that of Netanyahu, who claims he is the victim of a political witch hunt.

A poll that aired on television channel Reshet said 49% of Hebrew-speaking Israelis believe Netanyahu acted improperly. Twenty-five percent accept Netanyahu's claims of innocence and the remaining 26% do not know what to believe.

A poll by Channel 2 showed that 45% of Israelis believe Netanyahu should resign even before the attorney general decides whether to indict, versus 40% who said he should not.

The police recommendations were the product of a year-long investigation and were presented on Tuesday to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, the nation's chief prosecutor, who will have to decide whether to indict Netanyahu.

Israel feels increasingly alone as it confronts a difficult dilemma on its northern border: to allow Iran to gain a permanent foothold just across its border with Syria, or to go to war to prevent that from happening.

The White House took more than a full day before reacting to the first incident of Iranian-Israeli military engagement before releasing a statement reaffirming Israel's right to defend itself.

Other strains are becoming evident in the usually strong relationship between Netanyahu and President Trump, including a spat last week in which Netanyahu told political allies that “for some time now I've been talking about [plans to annex areas of the occupied West Bank] with the Americans,” an assertion that White House spokesman Josh Raffel rapidly declared “false.”

“The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal, and the president's focus remains squarely on his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative,” Raffel said in a statement.

On Friday, however, dismissing any concerns relating to Netanyahu's possible indictment, the White House announced it would be hosting Israel's embattled prime minister for meetings with Trump on March 5.

“Netanyahu will keep meeting other leaders, he'll keep on acting as if everything is normal as long as he can,” Meir Sheetrit, a former minister from Netanyahu's political party, Likud, said in an interview. “But we know what direction this is going in: political defeat.”

“This is untenable in the long term,” Sheetrit added. “Netanyahu and the Likud are disconnected from the people, floating along in a world in which their corruption doesn't matter. But it will, and this won't take long to come.”


__________________________________________________________________________

• Noga Tarnopolsky is a special correspondent to the Los Angeles Times. She reports on Israeli and Palestinian topics.

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=ca5c590f-535c-4451-9b66-5cd094ee09a1
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« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2018, 01:26:42 pm »


from The New York Times....

Netanyahu Inquiry Expands, With New Bribery Allegations

The Israeli prime minister, already accused of accepting nearly $300,000 in bribes,
could now face charges of obstructing justice.


By DAVID M. HALBFINGER | Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Munich this month. The Israeli police have arrested several of his friends and confidants, as well as top executives of the telecommunications company Bezeq, in a widening inquiry into whether he traded favors for favorable news coverage. — Photograph: Thomas Kienzle/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Munich this month. The Israeli police have arrested several of his friends and confidants, as well as
top executives of the telecommunications company Bezeq, in a widening inquiry into whether he traded favors for favorable news coverage.
 — Photograph: Thomas Kienzle/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.


JERUSALEM — The mushrooming corruption scandal plaguing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel took a surprising new turn on Tuesday, with an allegation that one of his closest advisers had sought to bribe a judge into dropping a criminal investigation involving the prime minister's wife.

At the same time, the Israeli police said they had arrested several of Mr. Netanyahu's friends and confidants, as well as top executives of Bezeq, the country's biggest telecommunications company, in a widening inquiry into whether Mr. Netanyahu had traded official favors for favorable news coverage.

The new allegations significantly raise the level of political and legal peril the prime minister faces, suggesting that he or some in his camp could be exposed to charges of obstructing justice.

On Tuesday night, Mr. Netanyahu's situation appeared to become even graver, as Israeli news organizations reported that one of those arrested — a top government official who reported directly to Mr. Netanyahu on the Bezeq affair — was in talks with prosecutors to become a government witness.

Mr. Netanyahu was already embattled, after the police recommended a week ago that he be prosecuted for accepting what they said were bribes worth nearly $300,000 from wealthy businessmen seeking government favors.

With this latest round of allegations he will come under even greater strains, accused by his critics on the left of saber rattling over Iran and pressured by the right to accept its agenda of expanding settlements and annexing the West Bank in return for its support.

Late on Tuesday, Mr. Netanyahu released a video denying the newest allegations, calling them “hallucinatory” and “baseless” and part of a “campaign of persecution against me and my family that has been going on for years.”

Israel's enemies have begun seizing on Mr. Netanyahu's legal predicament: In Munich on Sunday, the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, pointedly alluded to Israel's “domestic corruption” problem in accusing Mr. Netanyahu of “aggression” to distract attention from his political troubles.

Back at home, opponents from the Israeli left and center are demanding that Mr. Netanyahu resign or declare himself “incapacitated”: Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid party, calling in vain for a no-confidence vote, said on Monday that Mr. Netanyahu should appoint a temporary prime minister from within his own party.

“Israel deserves a full-time prime minister who is not engaged in anything else,” Mr. Lapid said.

Another of Mr. Netanyahu's main challengers, Avi Gabbay of Labor, said that the prime minister had “become a liability for the citizens of Israel.” Mr. Gabbay lamented Mr. Netanyahu's “sickly obsession for ‘what will people say’ and what will be written about him in the media,” adding, “Every day that he stays in office is damage to the country.”

Yet, Mr. Netanyahu's right-wing coalition appears solidly behind him. On Tuesday morning, even as reports were first surfacing about the allegations of an attempt to bribe a judge, the prime minister's coalition allies were loudly denouncing the police commissioner as biased and unprofessional, while accusing him of leaking like a sieve about the various Netanyahu-related inquiries.


Protesters in Tel Aviv last week called for Mr. Netanyahu to resign. — Photograph: Abir Sultan/European Pressphoto Agency.
Protesters in Tel Aviv last week called for Mr. Netanyahu to resign. — Photograph: Abir Sultan/European Pressphoto Agency.

At the center of the two new allegations is a close adviser to the prime minister, Nir Hefetz, a veteran Israeli journalist and political operative who in recent years has bounced back and forth between editing jobs and tending to the public image of the prime minister and his family. In 2015 he was a top strategist for the Likud Party's successful election campaign.

Late that year, according to the police and Israeli news reports, Mr. Hefetz, working as the Netanyahu family's media adviser, passed a message through an intermediary to Israel's commissioner for prosecutorial oversight, Judge Hila Gerstel: Would she drop a corruption case against Mr. Netanyahu's wife, Sara, in exchange for being named attorney general?

The case was not dropped, and Judge Gerstel did not become attorney general. Avichai Mandelblit, who did get the job, announced in September that he intended to indict Sara Netanyahu on fraud charges, accusing her of misusing some $100,000 through her management of the prime minister's official residence in Jerusalem. Mr. Hefetz resigned as the Netanyahu family's spokesman in October.

The family's current spokesman, Ofer Golan, denied any attempt by Mr. Hefetz to sway the judge's actions. “Nir Hefetz never offered this hallucinatory proposal to the prime minister and his wife,” Mr. Golan said in a statement. “He was never asked to make such a proposal, and we do not believe that Hefetz even raised such a thing.”

He added sarcastically, “The Netanyahu couple will soon be accused of murdering Arlosoroff,” referring to the Zionist leader Chaim Arlosoroff, who was assassinated in Tel Aviv in 1933.

The arrests in connection with Bezeq — a $2.9 billion telecom giant with telephone, television and news divisions — involve official actions taken by Mr. Netanyahu's government that were worth hundreds of millions of dollars to a near monopoly enterprise that sends monthly bills to most ordinary Israeli voters.

Bezeq's subsidiaries include a cable television company and Walla, a news website. Mr. Netanyahu's aides are suspected of trading favorable treatment by the Communications Ministry, which regulates the company, for favorable coverage by the news site. (The police last week accused Mr. Netanyahu of a similar swap: bargaining for favorable coverage in Yediot Aharonot, a big Israeli daily newspaper, by offering its publisher help in fending off a competitor.)

Mr. Netanyahu personally directed the ministry from 2014 to 2017. During that period, Bezeq's controlling shareholder, Shaul Elovitch, was trying to merge the Yes satellite-television company, of which he owned half, into the larger conglomerate, but at terms that were far more favorable to him than to Bezeq's shareholders.

Mr. Elovitch sought a series of regulatory approvals that were opposed by low-level officials in the Communications Ministry but approved nonetheless.

A crucial letter from a top ministry official in late 2015 was of enormous value both to the company and to Mr. Elovitch, said Gad Perez, a reporter for the Globes newspaper who broke a number of major stories on the case.

A 2015 article in Haaretz, meanwhile, reported that Walla's journalists were pressured by Mr. Elovitch to provide doting coverage of the prime minister and his wife. (Walla has since changed its tune.)

On Sunday, the police arrested Mr. Hefetz; Shlomo Filber, who was director general of the Communications Ministry and reported directly to Mr. Netanyahu; Mr. Elovitch; his wife, Iris; his son, Or, who was a director of both Bezeq and Yes, the cable TV company; Stella Handler, Bezeq's chief executive; and Amikam Shorer, the company's business development manager.

The Bezeq inquiry involves suspicions of obstruction of justice, as well as fraud and breach of trust, the police said on Tuesday in lifting a gag order on the names of those arrested.

Reuven Kuvent, a former investigations chief of the Israeli Securities Authority, said the challenge for law enforcement officers would be to establish an explicit link between the favorable news media coverage and the government's aid to Bezeq and Mr. Elovitch. “Things like that are not a written contract,” Mr. Kuvent said. “So what they're trying now is to get a state's witness: Elovitch, Hefetz or Filber.”

Indeed, Mr. Filber was close to becoming a state witness, Israeli news organizations reported Tuesday night. “They need a connection between the Bezeq story and Walla news,” said Shmuel Sandler, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University. “Maybe he will be it. If so, then that could change everything.”

The allegation about Judge Gerstel is not the first time Mr. Netanyahu or one of his aides has been accused of using the office of attorney general as an inducement.

In 1996, during his first stint as prime minister, Mr. Netanyahu was accused of striking a complicated three-way deal to name Roni Bar-On, an unexpected candidate, as attorney general to obtain the support of Arye Deri, a minister who was on trial for bribery, for a disputed plan to overhaul security arrangements in Hebron.

Mr. Bar-On quickly resigned amid criticism of his appointment. An investigation led to a police recommendation that Mr. Netanyahu be charged with fraud and breach of trust. But Mr. Bar-On's replacement as attorney general, Elyakim Rubinstein, dropped the case, citing a lack of evidence.


__________________________________________________________________________

Irit Pazner Garshowitz contributed reporting to this story.

• David M. Halbfinger is the Jerusalem bureau chief of The New York Times. He covers Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories and the Middle East. Before taking up his post in 2017, Mr. Halbfinger spent four years as metro political editor, deputy metro editor, presidential campaign editor and then deputy national editor, posts in which he oversaw political reporting in the New York area, managed the political reporters covering the 2016 presidential campaign, and helped lead coverage of the United States. As a N.Y. Times reporter from 1997 to 2013, Mr. Halbfinger frequently gravitated toward political and investigative reporting while ranging from Manhattan and the Bronx to posts as bureau chief in Long Island, Trenton and Atlanta, and as a Hollywood correspondent in Los Angeles. He also covered the 2004 presidential campaign of John Kerry. He was a winner of the Jesse Laventhol Prize for deadline news reporting by a team for his coverage of the explosion of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003. Before coming to The New York Times, Mr. Halbfinger worked at The Boston Globe, New York Newsday and The Philadelphia Business Journal. He received a bachelor's degree in English from Yale. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and three children.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • New Netanyahu Corruption Allegations: The Details

 • In Netanyahu's Israel, the Divisiveness Is Now All About Him

 • Netanyahu, Linked to $300,000 in Bribes, Says He Won't Quit

 • The Case Against Netanyahu: Highlights From the Police Investigation


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/20/world/middleeast/benjamin-netanyahu-corruption.html
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« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2018, 01:28:10 pm »


A lot of similarities to America are going on in the facist/terrorist Israeli regime. As with Trump and the Republicans in America, Netanyahu's Likud Party and his coalition allies are looking the other way and making excuses for lies, corruption and obstruction of justice. No wonder Iran feels it can comfortably comment on what a ratbag/scumbag regime Zionist Israel under Netanyahu is.
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« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2018, 08:59:27 pm »


from The Washington Post....

Netanyahu aims to embrace Trump in White House visit amid scandals in Israel

Clouds of potential corruption and legal peril hang over both men as they meet Monday at the White House.

By ANNE GEARAN and RUTH EGLASH | 12:01PM EST — Saturday, March 03, 2018

President Donald J. Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands in Jerusalem in May 2017. — Photograph: Ariel Schalit/Associated Press.
President Donald J. Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands in Jerusalem in May 2017. — Photograph: Ariel Schalit/Associated Press.

NO WORLD LEADER has forged a closer or more public camaraderie with President Trump than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who visits the White House on Monday battling corruption allegations that have echoes in the White House itself.

Both leaders have sought to put their tight bond on frequent display during Trump's first year as president — and that is likely to be especially true for Netanyahu now.

The Israeli prime minister is under legal scrutiny at home for his possible role in several far-reaching bribery scandals, including allegedly granting regulatory benefits worth millions of dollars to Israeli telecom giant Bezeq. He denies the allegations and is eager to highlight his politically valuable relationship with Trump, the pro-Israel leader of his country's most important ally and defender.

Netanyahu is expected to invite Trump to a ribbon-cutting in May for the controversial relocated U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, U.S. and Israeli officials said, although no visit is on the books.

Hours after Israeli police finished questioning him in one case on Friday, a tired-looking Netanyahu released a Facebook video saying the investigations will yield nothing and highlighting his “important” visit to Washington and the meeting with “a great friend of Israel, a true friend, President Donald Trump.”

Trump, however, has problems of his own that are thrust into the spotlight by Netanyahu's visit. Four former Trump associates have been charged or have pleaded guilty in an ongoing special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. And the president's son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser, Jared Kushner, is under scrutiny for blurring business and government work and has lost his top-level security clearance.

“The fascinating thing is how strong the parallels are between Trump and Netanyahu” at this moment, said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a liberal U.S. pro-Israel advocacy group critical of both Trump and Netanyahu.

“This swirl of corruption and investigation, the conflict of interest, is at the center of both administrations. You see both men respond in the same way — attacks on fundamental institutions of democracy like the judiciary and the media,” Ben-Ami said.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal that Kushner has worked for more than a year to draft remains on the shelf and is not at the top of the agenda for a meeting arranged alongside Netanyahu's address to the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Palestinians have rebuffed U.S. officials and publicly written off Trump as a peacemaker since his December announcement that he would move the embassy from neutral Tel Aviv to disputed Jerusalem. Trump retaliated with an aid cut and the threat of more.

“The president and the prime minister share a great relationship and make an effort to meet whenever the opportunity arises,” said White House spokesman Joshua Raffel, adding that discussions will include “the Iran nuclear deal, the Syrian civil war, efforts to thwart Iran's attempt to establish a permanent presence in Syria from which to threaten Israel, and the administration's ongoing peace efforts.”


President Donald Trump speaks as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in February 2017. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.
President Donald Trump speaks as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in February 2017.
 — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.


Netanyahu chose to address AIPAC in person this year, rather than by remote video link, as a way to underline his pull with the Trump administration and with conservative American Jews, analysts in the United States and Israel said.

Trump is not expected to address AIPAC in person. Vice President Pence, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman will appear on behalf of the administration.

Trump and Netanyahu have met once since the embassy announcement — at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in January. The embassy move delivered on a Trump campaign promise important to conservative Jewish and evangelical Christian supporters. It was pushed by Kushner and Friedman, and initially opposed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on national security grounds.

Trump also has said Israel will “pay for” the embassy move with reciprocal accommodations to the Palestinians in future negotiations. But as long as those negotiations are an aspiration rejected by the Palestinians, Netanyahu has little worry that Trump will put him on the spot over any difficult concessions, said David Makovsky, a former Obama administration peace negotiator.

That matters because Netanyahu has little leverage to do anything bold, Makovsky said.

“Netanyahu is in the fight of his life” legally and politically, Makovsky said.

“This Washington trip is a little bit, for Netanyahu, of a respite. It's viewed as taking a victory lap on the moving of the U.S. Embassy,” he said. “Celebrating good news, as they would both define it, and neither of them is forced to take any big decisions on this trip, either.”

Friday's police interview — less than 24 hours before he left for Washington — was the eighth such session for the long-serving Israeli prime minister. The inquiries relate to corruption scandals that have rocked his leadership and already brought two recommendations for indictments from law enforcement officials.

The scandals have had little impact on the stability of Netanyahu's government, however, with his coalition partners, from the right-wing Jewish Home party to ultra-Orthodox factions, committed to keeping him.

Shmuel Rosner, a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute, said Trump is now faced with a dilemma on how to handle Netanyahu.

“He can choose one of the two approaches,” Rosner said. “… He can identify with Netanyahu — both are in a similar situation; they can form a bond of people fighting against unjustified investigation and against an establishment reluctant to see them continue in their jobs, a bond of heads of state under suspicion.”

“The other path is to take the more cautious approach,” in which Trump calculates that it’s better to “put some distance between myself and him,” Rosner said, though he sees no sign of that from Trump so far.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a joint news conference with President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House in February 2017. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a joint news conference with President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House in February 2017.
 — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.


Both U.S. and Israeli officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive legal and diplomatic issues, said Netanyahu poses risks and political benefits for Trump.

Although the investigations are very different and Trump is not currently a clear target for prosecution, the rough similarities are apparent. Kushner's compromised position as a negotiator is “hard to ignore,” said one U.S. official.

Israeli police recommended two weeks ago that Netanyahu be indicted in two cases.

One involves gifts of cigars and jewelry amounting to more than $280,000 that the prime minister and his wife are suspected of receiving from billionaire benefactors such as Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian business executive James Packer.

The other involves deals made between Netanyahu and Arnon Mozes, publisher of the popular Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. Israeli media have reported that the agreement involved a trade of favorable news coverage for Netanyahu if he agreed to weaken the status of rival daily newspaper Israel Hayom, owned by U.S. casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

Trump gave a revealing interview to Israel Hayom last month in which he cast doubt on both Palestinian and Israeli willingness to make peace.

Israel's attorney general must now decide whether to indict Netanyahu on these two cases.


__________________________________________________________________________

Ruth Eglash reported from Jerusalem.

• Anne Gearan is a White House reporter for The Washington Post.

• Ruth Eglash is a correspondent for The Washington Post based in Jerusalem. She was formerly a reporter and senior editor at the Jerusalem Post and freelanced for international media.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/netanyahu-aims-to-embrace-trump-in-white-house-visit-amid-scandals-in-israel/2018/03/03/25f19f26-1e52-11e8-b2d9-08e748f892c0_story.html
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« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2018, 11:12:57 am »


from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times....

Beleaguered Netanyahu finds warm respite in U.S.

“The relationship has never been better,” President Trump says during the Israeli prime minister's visit.

By TRACY WILKINSON and CHRISTI PARSONS | Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald J. Trump with Sara Netanyahu, far left, and Melania Trump. Both men could get a political boost from the visit, at least with their political bases. — Photograph: Evan Vucci/Associated Press.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald J. Trump with Sara Netanyahu, far left, and Melania Trump. Both men could get a political boost
from the visit, at least with their political bases. — Photograph: Evan Vucci/Associated Press.


WASHINGTON — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under siege from corruption investigations and other scandals back home, found a warm respite on Monday at the White House at the start of a three-day U.S. visit expected to center on Iran, not the stalled Mideast peace process.

Even as a criminal investigation into Netanyahu deepened in Israel, the prime minister and President Trump shook hands twice, smiled broadly for the cameras and lavished each other with praise in the Oval Office before they sat down to lunch with their wives and Cabinet members.

Trump and Netanyahu have bonded especially closely, in part over their ego-driven style, but also over the threat from Iran and their shared disdain of President Obama. Their meetings offer a sharp contrast to Netanyahu's visits with Obama, when they both often sat stiff and unsmiling.

In brief comments to reporters, both leaders said U.S.-Israeli relations are stronger than ever. “We are very close on trade deals; we are very, very close on military and terrorism and all of the things that we have to work together on,” Trump said. “The relationship has never been better.”

Netanyahu offered an enthusiastic endorsement of Trump's decision in December to recognize the divided city of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, which previous administrations had refused to do in hopes of furthering peace negotiations.

Netanyahu compared Trump to Cyrus the Great, an ancient Persian king who conquered a vast empire and allowed the exiled Jews in Babylonia to return to their ancestral home to rebuild their temple.

“The Jewish people have a long memory,” Netanyahu said. Trump's decision, he said, will be “remembered by our people through the ages.”

Trump said he is proud of recognizing Jerusalem, which he said other presidents had promised but never fulfilled. Critics say the decision upended hopes for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that included an independent state for the Palestinians, who view East Jerusalem as their capital.

Trump said he may travel to Jerusalem this year when the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv is symbolically transferred to Jerusalem. Initially, the embassy will work out of offices within the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem with a skeleton staff.

Trump seemed confused on this point, saying an embassy could be constructed “quickly” for about $250,000. Building a complete new embassy that meets security requirements would be expected to cost at least tens of millions of dollars.

Both Trump and Netanyahu are widely unpopular at home, and both could get a political boost from this visit, at least with their political bases.

“They're both expert at building public support by demonizing their foreign enemies, and they have nothing but disdain for what they see as a liberal press corps that is constantly attacking them unfairly,” said Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

But he said Netanyahu has the most to gain.

“The walls are closing in around Netanyahu, as a set of corruption scandals threaten to end his political career,” he said. “He will trumpet apparent success rebuilding Israeli ties with the White House, and his cost-free victory of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, as an indicator that he is Israel's indispensable leader.”

He added that Israeli courts may not agree, noting that a previous prime minister and president each served jail time for actions while in office. “This trip may go down as Benjamin Netanyahu's last hurrah, and I expect him to make the most of it,” he said.

In his Oval Office comments, Netanyahu described Iran as the “greatest challenge” to Israel, the United States and its Arab allies, and warned it is “practicing aggression everywhere.”

He said Tehran had emerged from the landmark 2015 nuclear accord “emboldened and enriched.” Most world powers, as well as the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency, say the deal has successfully blocked Iran from obtaining, developing or building nuclear weapons.

Trump has threatened to walk away from the disarmament accord and may do so as soon as May, when a deadline for certification of Iran's compliance to Congress comes due.

The two leaders gave short shrift to what is normally the principal issue between Israel and Washington: negotiations to establish peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Trump said he believed his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital will promote the cause of peace, an opinion that few diplomats and foreign leaders share. Palestinian leaders have largely withdrawn from dealings with Trump administration officials, saying they no longer view the U.S. as an honest broker.

“The Palestinians, I think, are wanting to come back to the table,” Trump said. “If they don't, you don't have peace. You don't have peace … and that's a possibility also. I'm not saying it's going to happen.”

Shortly after taking office last year, Trump put Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and advisor, in charge of reviving the Mideast peace process. But that goal seems increasingly remote.

Kushner recently saw his security clearance downgraded at the White House, barring him from access to top secret information, and he is said to be under scrutiny for possible conflicts of interest in his dealings with foreign governments.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters later on Monday that Kushner's role in the meeting between Netanyahu and Trump “wasn't impacted” by his lower security clearance.

In Israel, Netanyahu's former communications chief, Nir Hefetz, reportedly struck a deal with authorities to provide evidence against the prime minister in exchange for avoiding jail time. He has supplied to police recordings that allegedly incriminate Netanyahu, most Israeli media reported.

Netanyahu said in a statement issued in Washington that Hefetz's claims are “entirely baseless.”

The prime minister is embroiled in numerous scandals, accused of taking bribes and conspiring to manipulate news coverage. In Israel, the Hefetz bombshell was getting at least as much coverage as Netanyahu's meeting with Trump.


__________________________________________________________________________

Special correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

• Tracy Wilkinson has covered wars, crises and daily life on three continents for the Los Angeles Times. Her career began with United Press International, where she covered the Contra war in Nicaragua. She moved to the L.A. Times in 1987, first as a writer on the Metro staff, then as a foreign correspondent based in San Salvador. In 1995, she moved to Vienna, where she covered the war in the Balkans, winning the George Polk Award in 1999, and then to Jerusalem. From there, she went to Rome, where she covered two popes and did several stints in Iraq. In 2008, she became Mexico bureau chief, where her coverage was part of a team Overseas Press Club Award and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. Wilkinson was also the 2014 winner of the Maria Moors Cabot Award for coverage of Latin America. She earned her bachelor's degreefrom Vanderbilt University. Her book The Vatican's Exorcists: Driving Out the Devil in the 21st Century has been translated into a dozen languages. She joined the L.A. Times' Washington, D.C., bureau in 2015 to cover foreign affairs.

• Christi Parsons has been a White House correspondent for the Los Angeles Times since 2008. She has covered three presidential elections and previously wrote about Illinois politics for the Chicago Tribune. She is a native of Alabama and holds degrees from the University of Alabama and Yale Law School.

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=07411273-c5ac-4e96-b115-51a322a6a4c7
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« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2018, 02:51:53 pm »


The delusional ranting of a rightie zionist moron……



from The New York Times....

Why I Am Dreading Netanyahu's Departure

Israel has had more than enough experience with novice politicians.
That's not what we need right now.


By SHMUEL ROSNER | Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel during a session at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, this week. — Photograph: Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel during a session at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament
in Jerusalem, this week. — Photograph: Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.


TEL AVIV — It is time to prepare for an Israel without Benjamin Netanyahu. I'm dreading it — and you should, too.

Of course, in a democratic country no leader lasts forever. So for Mr. Netanyahu to be replaced eventually is the normal and desirable course of politics. It's also a topic that is much on Israelis' minds these days. The prime minister is the subject of a number of corruption investigations, and there's talk of him being forced out or losing an early election (though an early election was avoided this week).

Still, if you want to see Israel succeed, you should pause before getting too excited about this looming departure. That's because Mr. Netanyahu has two things that his successor — no matter who that might be — will not have: vast experience and meaningful achievements.

Mr. Netanyahu is already the second-longest-serving prime minister in Israel's 70-year history. Only the state's founder, David Ben-Gurion, served longer. And he is a master of the political game. No one becomes prime minister in a parliamentary system by accident. No one is able to form coalitions and sustain them without being canny, ruthless and formidable.

Mr. Netanyahu has it all, and then some. He failed as a leader in the 1990s and recovered. From 2003 to 2005 he was a masterful finance minister — one of the few to hold the thankless job of budgetary naysayer and emerge politically unscarred. As prime minister, he has led Israel through diplomatic negotiations, military operations and financial upheavals.

Israel will, of course, survive without him. But Mr. Netanyahu, as long as he is not forced out, is undisputedly the most experienced leader Israelis have in stock. In fact, he is the only one with real experience. The details and names can be a bore, but those who hope to succeed him are a former media personality who served briefly and unsuccessfully as finance minister, a former minister for environmental protection whose party got tired of him within a few months of taking over and an education minister with a lot of ambition but few supporters.

Within Mr. Netanyahu's own party, Likud, there is a former minister of education who quit politics a few years ago and has been waiting on the sidelines, a transportation minister with experience as agriculture minister and the speaker of the Knesset.

Successful prime ministers come in many shapes but usually share two main characteristics: experience in security and foreign policy, and intimate familiarity with the nuts and bolts of parliamentary politics. Whoever ends up replacing Mr. Netanyahu is going to be one of the least experienced and commanding prime ministers in Israel's history — that is, aside from Mr. Netanyahu himself when he first took office.

Mr. Netanyahu would probably be the first to admit that history has been unkind to inexperienced Israeli leaders. There are calmer countries, in which one can have less experience and learn on the job. There are countries that don't have an array of enemies seeking their destruction, that aren't situated in a treacherous region and that don't face a constant barrage of crises. And then there is Israel. Here, the prime minister must hit the ground running or face calamity.

The second half of the 1990s was a master class in Israeli politics and political novices. First, Mr. Netanyahu, at the time a junior diplomat, was elected in 1996. His term was tumultuous, and after three years he was thrown out of office by the voters. He was replaced by another newcomer: Ehud Barak, a decorated and respected general with little aptitude for political life. Mr. Barak survived for about a year before his coalition collapsed. As he was unceremoniously replaced, the Palestinian intifada raged across Israel.

After less than five years — the total time of both their governments — Israel came back to its senses by electing Ariel Sharon. Mr. Sharon was both an experienced military man and a crafty political tactician. Israel needed someone to trust in uncertain times, and he was there.

Alas, uncertain times persist. Iran is making inroads in the region, Russia is suddenly calling the shots, and in the United States an unpredictable president surprises the world on a weekly basis. There are many good reasons to want Mr. Netanyahu's long hold on power to end. But it's hard to resist the sentiment that circumstances like these require a steady hand. They call for a leader who already made his share of mistakes and learned his share of painful lessons.

It is too early to count Mr. Netanyahu out, as the columnist Bret Stephens wisely wrote in these pages. If an early election is called, most polls predict that he would win another round. If he is indicted, he might still be able to persuade his coalition partners to wait for a court verdict before forcing him out.

The public supports him not just because of his many achievements as prime minister but also because the alternatives don't seem better: Another young, inexperienced leader? Another novice who will lose his coalition within two years? Another political amateur who will learn on the job? Do we really need another 1996 model of Mr. Netanyahu when we have the smarter, more powerful, 2018 model?


__________________________________________________________________________

Shmuel Rosner is the political editor at The Jewish Journal, a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute and a contributing opinion writer.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • Is It Time for Netanyahu to Resign Yet?


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/14/opinion/netanyahu-israel-departure-dread.html
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