Israel's Netanyahu: A singular leader with divisive legacy


A serial survivor of scandals, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be in trouble once more after police recommended a range of bribery and other charges against him in two separate investigations. Yet the law doesn’t require him to step down until convicted, the process could drag on for months, and the determined, loquacious leader is digging in his heels.

For now, his coalition is lining up behind him, but public opinion could change that. If his Likud Party concludes he has become a liability, minnows could quickly turn into sharks, and the party could replace him and retain power with the existing coalition.

Police say there is sufficient evidence to indict Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, accusations he rejects.

Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit, a Netanyahu ally, now must decide whether to adopt any of the police recommendations to prosecute. If Mandelblit drags his feet long enough, Netanyahu may even be able to call a new election before he faces trial. Indeed, he said this week he will run again in elections that must be held by the end of 2019.

Opinion polls published after Tuesday’s police report showed contradictory and perhaps fluid sentiment: Roughly half of Israelis think Netanyahu should resign, but Likud in general maintains its lead.

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