Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to be indicted for alleged corruption by Attorney General Avichai Mandelbilt, according to a Friday report by CNN.
Netanyahu quickly slammed the clearly politically motivated indictment, which comes just a month before Israel’s general election, as part of an attempted coup against his right-wing government.
“The left knows it cannot beat us at the polling booth, so for the past three years they have been carrying out an unprecedented witch hunt which has one aim: to topple the right-wing government which I lead,” Netanyahu stated after a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
Mandelbilt, a Netanyahu appointee, is one of many current and former members of the ruling Likud party now working with opposition parties and elements of the military, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies to overthrow Netanyahu and replace him with an individual more aligned with the Israeli establishment. Others include President Reuven Rivlin, and former Internal Affairs Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who reportedly secretly seeking the leadership of his party.
“The Left-wing media praises Gideon Sa’ar, they know which side he is on,” Yair Netanyahu, the Prime Minister’s son, wrote on Twitter. “‘Rubi’ Rivlin is just waiting until after the election to refuse to give my father the mission of forming the government, even if the Likud wins, and to give it to his good friend Gideon Sa’ar instead. We won’t let them!”
Belazel Smotrich, an Member of the Knesset (MK) from the controversial Union of Right-Wing Parties (URWP) and a close Netanyahu ally, has introduced legislation to protect Netanyahu from prosecution by what he describes as the “deep state”.
“The ‘deep state’ has in recent years reached heights we have never seen before, and there is a fear that there are elements that joining together in order to overthrow the right-wing government,” Smotrich said.
The indictment comes after Shin Bet chief Nadav Agarman and Tamar Zandberg, the leader of the left-wing Meretz party, suggested Putin would interfere in the Israeli elections to support Netanyahu. It also comes in the wake of an electoral alliance between opposition leader Yair Lapid and three former IDF chiefs, Benny Gantz, Moshe Ya’alon, and Gabi Ashkenazi, aimed at ousting Netanyahu from office. Two major U.S. advocacy groups, the American-Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC), have also publicly condemned Netanyahu for aligning his Likud with the more radical UWRP. With so many different groups and individuals on the Israeli left, center and moderate right all piling on Netanyahu at a critical moment in the electoral cycle, it is evident an attempt at regime change in Israel is afoot.