While we were all busy focusing on the various scandals rocking President Donald Trump's world, some of us may have missed an explosive story of bribery and fraud involving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to the Israeli police, the prime minister may have been guilty of a series of crimes, such as breach of trust, bribery, and fraud, on at least two occasions. Despite the shocking news, very few details have been revealed. And what's worse, on Thursday, officials released a gag order on information obtained during police talks as it enlists a state witness.
While it's early to know what else the police have uncovered, it has been revealed that Netanyahu's former chief of staff, Ari Harow, is being named as a possible witness. According to Haaretz, Harow has an agreement with the prosecution that would allow him to become a state witness despite being involved in the corruption cases.
Harow served as chief of staff in 2008 and then later in 2014, but he soon resigned after reports of corruption. But as reports concerning these cases surface, Netanyahu denies having taken part in any crimes.
According to officials, both corruption cases stem from discussions between Netanyahu and a newspaper publisher as well as gifts the prime minister and his family received from business figures.
Using a term Trump often employs to describe the media's attacks against him or members of his close circle, the Israeli prime minister's spokesman said that this investigation is “a witch-hunt, now at its peak, aimed at changing the government.”
“This is destined to fail, for a simple reason: Nothing will happen because nothing happened,” he added.
But to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, progress is being made, and more will be accomplished if the media lets them do their work in peace.
Currently, the two cases naming the prime minister as a culprit are known as Case 1000, which involves Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, and Case 2000, which involves Netanyahu attempting to finalize a deal with Arnon Mozes, the publisher of the mass-circulation daily Yedioth Ahronoth.
Milchan, Haaretz suggests, may have been asked to produce luxury items for the prime minister and his wife.
During the early part of 2017, Netanyahu was questioned by the police, but the investigation is ongoing.
The premier, who's been in power for 11 years, may not have to step down if indicted, but he will be pressured by the political class and the public, which may eventually force him to resign, Al Jazeera reported.
The cases may have first come to light when police looked into Harow over another case that the police did not pursue. During that probe, Harow's phone was confiscated. Hidden in his documents were recordings of the conversations between Mozes and Netanyahu, which prompted officials to open Case 2000.
If investigators and prosecutors are willing to give Harow a deal that would clear his name so that he may give them all he has on the prime minister, this could become a very interesting corruption case. But until more is revealed, we can't expect much from Israeli law enforcement, especially if Netanyahu is guilty. After all, if he's been able to bribe someone once, nothing would be keeping him from trying it again.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Amir Cohen