Netanyahu's Indictment Could Be Revealed After Elections - Ex-Israeli Official

© AP Photo / Ariel SchalitIsrael's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accompanied by his wife Sara waves to his supporters after polls for Israel's general elections closed in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, April 10, 2019.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accompanied by his wife Sara waves to his supporters after polls for Israel's general elections closed in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, April 10, 2019. - Sputnik International
Benjamin Netanyahu's party Likud can now officially celebrate victory in Israel's general election, which means Netanyahu will serve a fifth term as Israel’s prime minister.

Sputnik has discussed what the vote means for the future of Israel with Dan Arbell, former deputy chief of mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

Sputnik: So what’s your take on the preliminary results* of the Knesset elections?

Dan Arbell: Well, it promises to be more of the same.

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Netanyahu is going to create a right nationalist coalition, religious coalition which will display a tougher approach on national security issues including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas; and domestically will be promoting an agenda which is more nationalistic, more in favour of providing benefits for the Jewish population over the Arab population.

And finally it would be contributing, I'm afraid, to the erosion of the rule of law in Israel.

Sputnik: A lot of very strong statements, tell us about what your thoughts are on the impact to the Arab community, there’s actually a very low result as far as people coming out to vote from the Arab community, one of the lowest I think?

Dan Arbell: I think yes that’s the most striking trend yesterday among voters. Usually Arab voter participation is not high, but it is usually around 50-60percent, and yesterday it was around 40 percent*.

Arab voters did not show up in large numbers and some Arabs protest against the government policies. Some Arabs protest against their own parties, and instead of helping their cause they’re making it worse, because now they have much less representation. They had a party of 13 seats now they have a party of 6 seats and possibly, maybe another 4.

So definitely the representation of Arabs has dropped and the impact on Jewish-Arab relations, impact the role of Arabs in society, their integration into society, it is a very concerning factor, that increases, widens the divide, the wide divide already between Jews and the Arabs in the state of Israel.

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Sputnik: You said you’re also fearful that there could be an overall sort of worsening of the state of the rule of law, what are your thoughts on the concrete implications?

Dan Arbell: What I meant by that is, first of all, Netanyahu faces several corruption charges and he may try to bypass that by legislation securing his immunity, which is known as the French law, not allowing prosecution.

That’s something that he's going to be working on, and second, many in his party want to limit the role of Israeli Supreme Court. The Israeli Supreme Court is known for its judicial activism and many in Netanyahu's party and his coalition want to limit the role of the Supreme Court.

And so in that sense I think we’re going to see a lot of heated debate and perhaps actions trying to limit the role of the Supreme Court and, again, securing Netanyahu's continued rule without facing criminal charges, although, he’s about to be indicted on three counts of bribery, breach of trust, and fraud.

Sputnik: I understand that there’s also some information relating  to the ongoing investigation, prosecution process, regarding Netanyahu that was frozen and didn’t come out prior to the elections, do you know anything about that? How did that happen, because that seems like a cover-up and it seems like it was done with his blessing and perhaps even assistance?

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Dan Arbell: The thing was the Attorney General of Israel announced indictments in late February, Netanyahu's lawyers asked that beyond the information about those indictments that the actual containing additional information about the indictments would not be released until after the election, so as to not to serve as direct intervention in the elections; and the Attorney General accepted that request and has not allowed the publication of additional information against the prime minister and other people suspected in the different cases he is involved in.

But now, after the elections are over those files will be released and a lot of juicy information is likely to come out to the public knowledge about other things involving these cases.

Sputnik: Do you think that that was ethical, legal?

Dan Arbell: Ethical is another question, legal it is, and the Attorney General ruled it to be legal, and it was upheld by a court decision so it’s not illegal what the Attorney General has done.

Whether it’s ethical or moral that’s a question each of us can answer to themselves. I think it should’ve been published; Israelis should’ve been made fully aware of the entire proceedings record, what exactly is the prime minister is suspected of, what he’s done, what his associates have done. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Sputnik: Now that that does become the case is there anything that will change if there's some really bad news in there…

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Dan Arbell: It’s not going to change the bottom line that he’s facing those indictments on three charges and he is pending a hearing and this hearing is supposed to take place in July.

He’ll be presenting his side of story on all instances he’s charged with, and the Attorney General has a few months to decide whether what Netanyahu's presented suffices or not, does it change the situation or not;  most likely it will not change the bottom line which is that the Attorney General will likely decide by Fall 2019 to indict the prime minister on all these charges.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Dan Arbell and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

*The interview was made before the release of the final election results.

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