The flood of inquiries into activities associated with Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu is overpowering. Even ignoring the “noise multiplier” effect of the media frenzy surrounding the latest revelations, there is little doubt about the breadth and severity of the allegations about bribery and corruption.
Nethanyahu should go. It’s the right thing to do. Ideally, he should resign. At the very least, he should take time off. Like all suspects, he is innocent until proven guilty. Unlike almost all other suspects, he is the prime minister. As he himself said about his predecessor, a prime minister “up to his neck in investigations… does not have a public or moral mandate to determine such fateful matters for the state of Israel”.
But Netanyahu should go also because it’s for his own good. I am not a fan of Netanyahu, but I recognize his long and, in the eyes of many, successful career. Not only as prime minister, but also as finance minister, foreign minister, ambassador to the UN and many other prominent roles. Whichever way these multiple investigations end, Netanyahu’s career will not end well. Even in the unlikely event of full acquittal from all allegations, he will be weakened within his own party and will need to fight to stay in power. His image in the eyes of the public, even among his staunchest supporters, is already tainted beyond repair.
The Hebrew language has an expression (mistakenly paraphrasing a Talmudic saying): “his old days put his youth to shame”. It is used to describe people whose bad actions later in life eclipse their previously good actions. Netanyahu may still be able to salvage his legacy by stepping down and fighting his legal battles as a ordinary citizen, and not as an embattled and cornered prime minister.