For months, some of Israel’s top political figures have been embroiled in a series of growing corruption scandals that threaten to bring down the government. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has also been implicated and could face increasing pressure to resign from office as the story unfolds. In an email interview, Israeli journalist Noam Sheizaf explains the backdrop of the multiple corruption investigations, what it all means for Netanyahu’s position as prime minister, and why Israel’s corruption problems date back decades.
WPR: Can you describe the current set of corruption scandals unfolding in Israel and who is involved?
Noam Sheizaf: There are three major corruption investigations that might have serious political consequences in Israel. In two of them, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is a suspect, while the third involves people from his inner circle. The first affair—named “Case 1,000” by the police—focuses on lavish gifts that Netanyahu and his wife received and, at times, demanded from wealthy businessmen, including Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer. Netanyahu, widely known by his nickname Bibi, claims that these were exchanges among friends, but the fact that he was involved in regulatory decisions over Milchan’s business interests complicates things for him and might even lead to charges of bribery.