As corruption cases close in, Netanyahu will move further right to survive

Netanyahu is already painting the police recommendation to indict him as a political witch hunt. That will have significant consequences on how the attorney general proceeds, and what Israel’s second-longest serving prime minister does to survive.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting, January 21, 2018. (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting, January 21, 2018. (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL)

The Israeli police on Tuesday recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in two corruption cases, referred to as Case 1000 and Case 2000. In Case 1000, Netanyahu is suspected of trying to advance the interests of Israeli tycoon Arnon Milchen in exchange for lavish gifts he and his wife demanded; in Case 2000, Netanyahu was recorded plotting to pursue regulatory changes that would have assisted the daily paper Yedioth Ahronoth in exchange for “indefinite” positive coverage, as promised by the paper’s publisher, Arnon Mozes. Netanyahu is suspected of receiving or being offered bribes in both cases.

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Netanyahu doesn’t deny the facts, only the police’s interpretation of them. In a live message Tuesday evening, he tried to rally his base by claiming (as he has in the past) that he is the victim of politically motivated attacks. He also vowed not to resign. Tuesday’s big news – the involvement of Yair Lapid, Netanyahu’s main political rival, as a key witness for the prosecution in Case 1000 – assists Bibi in politicizing the discourse around the affair even further.

So what’s next for Bibi?

The decision whether to press charges lies in the hands of the Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who will likely take months to consider the evidence, maybe even a full year. Theoretically, Mandelblit could make up his mind much sooner, since the prosecution was involved in the police investigation from its inception, as it does in high profile cases – but this is unlikely for legal and political reasons alike.

If Mandelblit presses charges, the assumption is that Bibi’s coalition partners would resign, leading to early elections. But the common wisdom is that if Bibi senses an indictment coming he will call snap elections. Mandelblit won’t be able to announce his decision during a campaign – for fear of tipping the elections, and once Bibi wins, it will be politically difficult for the attorney general to press charges at all (if Netanyahu loses it won’t matter anyway). On the other hand, if the public pressure against Bibi intensifies, things might move faster.

Personally, I don’t see how Mandelblit can avoid pressing charges without it being seen as a cover-up. A decision not to indict would almost certainly be challenged in the High Court, and it could doom the attorney general’s own aspirations (to serve on the Supreme Court, like many of his predecessors). Lest we forget, Netanyahu is tied (though not a formal suspect yet) to a couple more investigations, much broader in scope – Case 3000, dealing with attempts to influence contracts for the purchase of submarines from Germany (Bibi’s most intimate proxies – attorneys Shimron and Molcho – are the key figures here), and Case 4000, involving regulatory changes in favor of the telecom giant Bezeq. It’s simply too much.

Mandelblit wants to avoid being seen as the man who took down a popular prime minister. He would much rather let the political process work, hoping that Bibi’s coalition falls apart or that he loses an election before he is forced to make a final decision about whether to indict. That way, Mandelblit would end up prosecuting Netanyahu as a private citizen. But judging from Netanyahu’s appearance yesterday, that scenario is unlikely: Bibi will do all he can to keep his coalition together for the time being.

The key for Netanyahu’s strategy is his popularity on the right. As long as he maintains high approval ratings among his base, none of his rivals from the right will come out against him, out of fear of political revenge from his supporters.

Which leads us to the broader implications of the recent developments: since Netanyahu’s survival now depends on his most loyal base, he is likely to move even further to the right politically – both with regards to the Israeli culture war, and on the Palestinian issue. These are going to be rocky years ahead.

Trump’s Games Are Destroying Immigrants’ Lives

For Immediate Release: February 15, 2018

Trump’s Games Are Destroying Immigrants’ Lives

(WASHINGTON)—Kica Matos, spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, FIRM, issued the statement below after the Senate failed to pass the bipartisan DREAM Act:

“Millions of young immigrants’ lives have been turned upside down since Trump heartlessly ended DACA without a permanent legislative solution in place. And, instead of allowing a bipartisan group of Senators pass the most popular solution—the DREAM Act—he has acted like a wrecking ball, meddling in the negotiation process and destroying the delicate conversations that have focused on protecting the future of millions of lives at stake.

Sadly, too many Senators sided with Trump’s racist agenda and turned their backs on immigrant youth. They failed to stand up to Trump’s tactics and bring the bipartisan DREAM Act up for a vote. But, it is evident that his extremist agenda doesn’t pass muster—his plan was strongly rejected in the Senate today.

The fight for justice continues at the local, state and federal level. There is a solution to the chaos Trump created and it’s called the DREAM Act. Now America must stand up for what’s right and demand that Congress pass it.”

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Dreamers stuck in limbo as Senate rejects four immigration plans

#LiarTrump joined by Liar Senators!

Defeat of separate proposals suggests there may be no permanent solution soon for young undocumented immigrants

The Senate left hundreds of thousands of Dreamers in limbo Thursday, rejecting rival plans that would have spared them from deportation and strengthened the nation’s border security.

The day’s votes, in which four separate proposals were defeated, illustrated anew Congress’ steep challenge in striking a deal on an issue that’s proven intractable for years and on which each party’s most fervent supporters refuse to budge. The outcome suggested there may be no permanent solution soon to help the Dreamers – young, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children – despite their sky-high support in public polling.

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Undiagnosed adult ADHD could cost UK billions a year, report finds

And drug companies would like to make billions drugging people “diagnosed” by eager docs who get benefits from drug companies! Not news flogged by drug firms?

Costs of the disorder in adults who are unable to work or hold down a full-time job are high, says thinktank

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, could be costing the UK billions of pounds a year, according to a new report that says awareness of the condition in adults in particular is very poor and many people go undiagnosed and untreated.

According to the thinktank Demos, ADHD is a major socio-economic burden. The costs to the nation of the disorder in adults who are unable to work or hold down a full-time job are high.

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