Protests in Israel Over Netanyahu Legislation

By Patrick Brogan

The Israeli Prime Minister has had a tough few months and pressure is growing on him as protestors took to the streets to voice their opposition to proposed legislation they feel will hinder any investigations into Benjamin Netanyahu and potential links to corruption.

Corruption has been word mentioned very often regarding Israeli politics as of late and ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu is no exception. A former employee of both casino owner James Packer and Israeli businessman Arnon Milchan said that the Netanyahu family made demands of champagne and cigars and said the Prime Minister’s wife, Sara, demanded to use their building inspector and yelled at him. Bibi said there is nothing untoward and this was just a case of friends sharing. The Israeli leader is also accused of making secret deals with the media, particularly the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, for favourable coverage.

This follows on from legal action taken by Sara Netanyahu’s former employees. One cleaner that worked for her said they were treated as slaves and that she preferred ultra-orthodox workers because she saw them as subservient.

What is the most damaging revelation by far are those surrounding David Bitan. He is seen by many as the Prime Minister’s right hand man and he was arrested on counts of corruption along with nearly 20 others, including businessmen, contractors and members of organised crime. Is is believed Bitan rezoned land to suit his business interests and helped support criminal elements so they would alleviate him of his debts. Bitan is trying to force the new legislation through and quickly as there is believed to be documents and recordings of Bitan’s crimes.

At the very least, the Prime Minister’s close association to this man is embarrassing and many believe it could get worse for him if he is dragged into the centre of this story, especially in light of the other allegations against him and his family. The leader of the opposition Labor Party, Isaac Herzog, said he endorsed the protests and said the Israeli people are tired of corruption. Meanwhile, a spokesman said these stories were generated to tarnish Netanyahu and were just that, stories. A sizeable part of the population see it differently and this may spell the end of a man that has been in power since 2009.

 

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