Kafe Knesset for Jan. 3
The police’s investigation of Netanyahu is the latest unknown to rattle Israeli politics and risks opening a whole new world of intrigues. For the time being, he has his party’s support. MKs and ministers are speaking out on his behalf, defending him of any wrongdoing and accusing the media and the opposition of illegitimate attempts to topple him. According to the law, the investigation, and even an indictment, is not enough to force any changes–only a conviction can prompt any changes. And even then, it would require a vote from 60 MKs to remove him from office. Not likely.
But behind closed doors, the Knesset has started speculating how this may play out. Netanyahu didn’t appoint a substitute, a deputy PM who will fill in in case he decides or is pressured to recuse himself. And some of the senior members of his party would love to have the job. If Netanyahu eventually does succumb to public pressure and recuse himself, with no designated replacement, the Likud party would have to choose his successor, and that would spark an all-out war over the job between various ministers who see themselves as a future premier, such as Israel Katz and Gilad Erdan.
Another possibility is that Netanyahu himself will choose to dissolve the Knesset and put a temporary halt on the police probe until after a new election is held. That option has been floated in the coalition, especially given a new bill currently being pushed by Likud MK Dudi Amsalem. According to the legislation, police will not be able to investigate incumbents or sitting PMs until after they leave office. A senior source in the coalition told Kafe Knesset that Netanyahu might decide to speed up the legislation process, and then go to new elections, assuming that once the bill passes – if Netanyahu is elected again – the probe will no longer be relevant.
Netanyahu himself continues to project business as usual. In his daily Facebook post today, he quoted the Attorney General’s announcement from last night which informed the public that while a serious investigation is still underway, other scandals and suspicions have been refuted. “Years of daily persecution against me and my family turned out to be nothing. Will anyone in the media apologize for thousands of headlines and articles which turned out to be total nonsense? I repeat: there will be nothing because there is nothing.”