Netanyahu indicted on charges of corruption

Israel's Attorney General has indicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. This does not mean he must resign - that will only be necessary if he is convicted, and Netanyahu as already announced he plans to remain in office. Commentators look at why he should consider this carefully.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

A political style that hurts the country

Netanyahu simply doesn't want to admit that he should have resigned long ago, complains Alexandra Föderl-Schmid, Israel correspondent for the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“Again and again he declares that only he can guarantee Israel's security. Yet it's the instability caused by the political wrangling that has been going on for a year now that is endangering Israel's security. As a defendant in the courtroom, he will certainly not be able to meet the demands of his office. What's more, it damages the country's reputation if its prime minister is accused of corruption. But Netanyahu doesn't care. His political campaigns serve his personal interests anyway. With his attacks he weakens the rule of law and thus the democracy of which Israelis are proud.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Likud needs a fresh start

Netanyahu should withdraw from the party leadership and step down as prime minister, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung says responding to the news of his indictment:

“A political fresh start would be good for both Likud and Israel. Netanyahu has increasingly taken the country and his party hostage in a bid to ward off the serious accusations against him. He was willing to use almost any means to stay in power. ... Likud is known for its unwavering loyalty to its party leader. If Saar [Netanyahu's rival within the party] or any other critic is given enough of a boost because of the charges it could pave the way for a grand coalition between Likud and Benny Gantz's Blue-White alliance.”

Večer (SI) /

No one is inviolable

Večer is delighted at the indictment:

“Both the investigation in Congress against US President Trump - which will almost certainly end in impeachment - and the charges against Netanyahu show that no one is inviolable. Their sins are similar: in Latin they're called quid pro quo. ... Unfortunately, quid pro quo has become a political modus operandi all over the world. The only difference is that people in some countries dare to investigate politicians at the height of their power, while in others they wait cautiously for their star to fade. This is the clearest distinction between constitutional states and apparent democracies.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Netanyahu is doomed politically

This is the end of the road for the long-serving prime minister, La Repubblica predicts:

“Bibi's rule is over. But the 'king' has no intention of getting off his horse and abdicating. Last night he announced that he would fight on, gather his last loyal followers around him and lead the battle against the 'judge's coup'. No doubt he'll do everything he can and keep Israel in check for months. But as of last night, Netanyahu has become the first Israeli head of government to be forced to answer to a court of law during his term in office. And that will make it virtually impossible for him to survive in office, with or without fresh elections.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Power struggles jeopardise Israel's future

Israel is putting its future on the line with this ongoing conflict between parties, Der Standard warns:

“Militarily, politically and economically, Israel is stronger today than it has ever been. That gives it the chance to actively shape its future in a difficult region - above all as regards its coexistence with the Palestinians. But instead its politicians are caught up in pointless power struggles and look on as the growing polarisation gradually buries yesterday's solidarity. Netanyahu, the grandmaster of opportunism, is the main symbol of this scourge.”