- A group of tech entrepreneurs has asked Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign.
- Netanyahu currently faces three corruption charges.
- He has refused to resign and the country is now locked in a political stalemate.
On Tuesday, over 70 notable Israeli entrepreneurs signed a letter urging lawmakers to prevent the political uncertainty from progressing. On Wednesday, a collective of tech industry heads sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking him to resign in light of the corruption charges brought against him. They condemned his attack on the judiciary and the Attorney General while underscoring the need for stability, which maintains economic progress.
Last Thursday, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced three corruption charges against Netanyahu. Most of them were related to fraud and breach of trust. In the announcement, the attorney general stressed the need to enforce the law, while reiterating that no one is above it.
Mandelblit told reporters that it was a sad day for him as the Attorney General, and for Israel, stating, “a day in which the attorney general decides to serve an indictment against a seated prime minister for serious crimes of corrupt governance is a heavy and sad day, for the Israeli public and for me personally.”
Netanyahu issued a press statement soon after the pronouncement. He dismissed the charges as a blatant attempt to usurp him from power and undermine his legacy. He’s accused of receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in luxury gifts from billionaire associates, and trading favors for favorable media coverage. Consequently, his tenure is now in limbo. The cases are likely to drag on for years.
The ruling by the Attorney General comes at a fraught time when Netanyahu is looking to win another term as prime minister. He has typically denied all allegations and said that he will not step down as head of government. He is legally not required to do so, but his grip on power as the premier will be unsettling to some segments of the population, who now see him as an illegitimate leader.
His political camp is already considering backing laws that give him immunity against the announced charges. If convicted, Netanyahu could face up to ten years behind bars for bribery and three years for fraud.
The country is currently in a political stalemate after two elections held this year were unable to determine a clear majority leader. And on Wednesday, Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White party, failed to form a coalition government.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin has already asked legislators to determine the head of government, but this is unlikely to yield any conclusive result. Thus, Israel is headed for another election, which could be held as early as March 2020.
A recent survey carried out by the Israel Democracy Institute found that 65 percent of the citizenry wants Netanyahu to resign. Of course, such a move would help the country avoid a costly third election in a year.