“Netanyahu finds comfort abroad…”: Corruption, sleaze allegations haunt Israeli PM’s family at home

Modi’s ‘friend’ Benjamin Netanyahu faces allegations of receiving kickbacks to help out businessmen. His wife, Sara, also faces the same. Son Yair, meanwhile, is embroiled in a sleaze scandal.


Dhairya Maheshwari

The historic visit to India couldn't have come at a worse time for the household of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Three of his family members, including himself, are involved in politically damaging accusations that may well spell the end of his political career.

“Netanyahu did not go to India on Sunday to distract attention from problems at home. But if those problems are overshadowed as a result of the trip, then for Netanyahu, that would be a most welcome side-effect,” said a column in Israel’s famous broadsheet Jerusalem Post.

The critical column, carried on Monday, was published in the backdrop of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ongoing six-day visit to India. Monday is the second day of Netanyahu’s reciprocal visit, nearly six months after his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi’s standalone visit to Israel last year.

The write-up also comes amid corruption and sleaze scandals against members of the Netanyahu family, including the PM himself, which have dominated political rhetoric in Israel.

Also, barely two weeks ago, anti-corruption protestors had mobilised themselves in thousands in Tel Aviv, demanding that their elected leader be jailed for his alleged involvement in at least two corruption scandals.

In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife Sara have been accused of receiving gifts worth hundreds and thousands of dollars from an Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian casino owner James Packer. According to reports in the Israeli media, the quid pro quo was the PM helping Milchan obtain an American visa and Packer a residency permit in Israel.

Under Case 2000, Netanyahu allegedly made another quid pro quo deal with an Israeli publication in return for a more favourable coverage for his government.

The Israeli media reported last month that the Israeli media were planning on instituting a formal trial against Netanyahu in both the cases. Before that could happen, the government-controlled Knesset (Israeli Parliament) is said to have passed a law barring police from informing prosecutors if charges against public officials could be framed, a move seen as shielding Netanyahu from an indictment.

Netanyahu’s son, Yair, is said to have been left out a 130-member strong delegation accompanying the Israeli PM to India in a last-minute adjustment after reports emerged of him making derogatory remarks against women at a strip club that he visited with two of his friends in 2015.

“Speaking of prostitutes, what’s open at this hour?” Yair is heard asking his friend in a leaked recording from the night out.

“It’s possible the waitresses there go with the flow.”

The recording attracted criticism from across political establishment once it surfaced, besides making international headlines. In Israel, they have also triggered massive demonstrations, even as the Israeli PM cements his country’s ties with the second-most populous nation in the world.

“With the news cycle in Israel dominated by stories about Yair, Sara and alleged scandals involving Netanyahu himself and some of his closest confidants, it is critical for the prime minister that the public see him in his role as statesman,” reassured the Jerusalem Post column, which has been aptly titled DEJA VU: NETANYAHU FINDS COMFORT ABROAD AS SCANDALS WHIRL AT HOME.

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Published: 15 Jan 2018, 4:45 PM