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The JC Leader: The end is nigh

The Jewish Chronicle Leader column, February 23rd, 2018

    We will not know for sure whether Benjamin Netanyahu is to be charged with corruption until Israel''s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit makes his decision — although he has hinted that this will be sooner rather than later.

    But the past fortnight has the definite feel of the beginning of the end, even without the legal decision to come.

    Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich gave evidence to a Knesset committee on Tuesday and spoke of Mr Netanyahu and his associates as if they were some kind of organised crime operation (“when dealing with criminals, there’s pushback”).

    And this week has seen a series of possibly devastating developments, from Netanyahu crony Shlomo Filber, the director general of the Communications Ministry, turning on his former boss to the arrest of eight suspects in a new case revolving around the Bezeq telecom company, and the revelation of an alleged proposal by Mr Netanyahu’s former spokesman Nir Hefetz to make Judge Hila Gerstl the first female attorney general if she closed down an investigation into the prime minister’s household expenses.

    But whatever the legal process to come, the aura of invincibility has gone. Until now, there has been an expectation that Mr Netanyahu would always emerge if not triumphant then at least still firmly in control from whatever was thrown at him.

    No more.

    In any democracy — in any entrenched power base — once aides, long standing allies and even the chief of police start publicly turning on a leader, the game is up. It now seems almost certain that it is a matter of when, not if, Israel has a new leader.

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