Netanyahu’s Best-case Scenario Is a Fourth Election Round. And Then a Fifth

Like a common criminal, Benjamin Netanyahu stood before the nation Wednesday evening and lowered the bar of national shame to new levels. True, the prime minister has yet to be convicted of anything. But his behavior, his ways, his language and his statements are those of a criminal.

His string of lies, which were exposed again under the spotlights, are of the kind that is expected from a serial criminal, not a leader.

– Haaretz Weekly Ep. 55

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Netanyahu's whole purpose this past year, in which he led Israel into the worst political and constitutional crisis in its history, with the help of his collaborators in Likud and the right-wing bloc, was to forestall the moment he would have to seek immunity. But he failed time after time, politically and electorally.

At the helm of the State of Israel stands not just a prime minister indicted with bribery and fraud, but a petty politician hiding behind an immunity clause that has no connection whatsoever to the alleged crimes and serious accusations against him.

He arrogantly and falsely accused his rival, Benny Gantz, of stealing public funds. He completely distorted what President Reuven Rivlin had said in the past about the importance of parliamentary immunity. And without an ounce of shame, he once again accused law enforcement – whose leaders he himself had carefully chosen – of “framing” him and suborning and extorting state witnesse.

Netanyahu, the professional procrastinator, managed to buy some time on Wednesday night. The alternative – having the indictments filed and a trial opened in the next few months – was not an option for him. The question is, how much time? Theoretically, until a new Knesset is sworn in and a new House Committee convenes to hear his request (which it will most likely reject).

For him, the best-case scenario would be a fourth round of elections, and then a fifth, and so on. Even if the right-wing, religious bloc gets 61 seats, it’s doubtful that all of them would support his immunity request. And even if they do, the High Court of Justice is likely to overturn that decision, as it has done in the past in less serious cases. Netanyahu knows that all the roads lead to trial, but as noted, he’s playing for time.