Sunday, December 9, 2018

Believe it or not, Hezbollah’s war on Israel does takes precedence over the war on Bibi. Sorry. - by Jonathan S. Tobin

Accusations that Netanyahu is “wagging the dog” by highlighting Hezbollah’s terror tunnels undermines his critics’ credibility.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
06 December '18..

Maybe you thought that the discovery of tunnels built by Hezbollah under the border between Lebanon and Israel would generate a full-scale debate about the deadly nature of the threat from the terror group and its Iranian masters. But if so, you haven’t been paying much attention to the political atmosphere in Israel or the way the Jewish state and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are covered in the international press.

The first mention of the tunnels in The New York Times came in an article with the headline “Suspected of Crimes, Netanyahu Is Also Suspected of Fear-Mongering.” The upshot of the piece was to frame the issue as merely a distraction from the prime minister’s legal troubles after the Israeli police recommended that he and his wife, Sara, be indicted on corruption charges.

The charges against Netanyahu are serious. Or rather, it might be said that this latest problem is more serious than two previous cases where the police also recommended his indictment. Netanyahu is accused of aiding a wealthy crony’s acquisition of the Bezeq Company. Bezeq owned a popular website Walla News that, in return for the prime minister’s ability to use the government’s regulatory power in its favor, provided positive coverage for him and his government. It remains to be seen whether Israel’s attorney general will accept the police recommendation that an actual crime was committed and a conviction can be obtained. The same is true about two more frivolous charges in which the police also sought indictments.

The debate about these accusations has played into the discussion about whether the government will wait to hold a new election next fall, when Netanyahu’s government’s term expires, or if he will move for an early election. The presumption is that if he were to be indicted—something that is by no means certain in any of the three cases—he would wish to enter into legal combat forearmed with the endorsement of the voters. That is because, to the horror of his opponents, every poll predicts Netanyahu’s coalition will be easily re-elected.

Israeli politics is just as nasty, personal and partisan as it is in the United States. So it was hardly surprising that cynics in the Israeli opposition and media, as well as their foreign counterparts, would interpret the furor over the tunnels as an attempt to change the subject from accusations of corruption.

(Continue to Full Column)

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