Why do governments politically invite corruption

Israel: "Serious Case of Government Corruption"

The prosecutor accuses Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of corruption and abuse of power, based on more than 300 testimonies. Meanwhile, President Rivlin held initial talks on forming a government.

In the corruption process against Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the public prosecutor's office accused the 71-year-old of abuse of power. The lead prosecutor Liat Ben-Ari spoke of a "serious case of government corruption" in her opening speech on Monday. During the trial, President Reuven Rivlin held initial talks with party politicians about ways to form a government just two weeks after the parliamentary elections.

Ben-Ari accused the Prime Minister, who has been in office for twelve years, of having used the government power entrusted to him, among other things, to "demand improper advantages from owners of large media in Israel". In doing so, he was pursuing his own interests "also in his endeavors to be re-elected".

Trial in the District Court in Jerusalem

Netanyahu appeared in person in the Jerusalem District Court on the date. His participation in the opening speeches had been ordered by the judges. Netanyahu was allowed to leave the hearing before the hearing began. He then sharply criticized Ben-Ari in a statement. Not he himself, but the public prosecutor's office "illegally" used the power entrusted to them, said Netanyahu.

Supporters and opponents of the head of government gathered in front of the courthouse. Some protesters held up banners reading "Minister of Crime".

300 testimonies

Prosecutors based their charges against Netanyahu on more than 300 testimonies. Former Walla news website chief Ilan Yeschua testified as the first witness. He said he had regularly received instructions from Netanyahu allies to publish articles that either cast a good light on the head of government or a bad light on his opponent.

Netanyahu is the country's first incumbent prime minister to be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Among other things, he is accused of having granted the telecommunications company Besek favors in return for positive reporting on the company's website "Walla". Other allegations relate to luxury gifts that Netanyahu and his loved ones received from wealthy people in exchange for financial and personal gain. He himself rejects the allegations and describes himself as a victim of a political "witch hunt".

Elections: Netanyahu's party won

Also on Monday, President Rivlin met with party representatives to explore the possibilities of forming a government after the parliamentary elections on March 23. Netanyahu's Likud party was the strongest party in the ballot - the fourth in just two years - with 30 seats out of 120 in parliament. However, neither the Netanyahu camp nor its opponents have so far been able to reach an agreement on a governing coalition.

Traditionally, Israel's president assigns the formation of a government to the top candidate who receives the most support from MPs. Netanyahu received the most recommendations from parliamentarians on Monday with 52 votes. 45 recommendations were made by the liberal Jair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party. Rivlin has already indicated, however, that he does not want to be guided by the numbers alone, but rather to give the government formation mandate to the candidate "who has the best chance of forming a government". According to his office, Rivlin plans to announce his decision this Tuesday.

28 days time

The candidate chosen by Rivlin has 28 days to form a government alliance. If he does not succeed, Israel faces the fifth new election in a row. Rivlin can extend this period once by 14 days.

Lapid said on Monday that he had offered former Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and his religious-nationalist Jamina party to form a government alliance with a rotating chairmanship. In the format, Bennett could take over the office of prime minister first. The "ruthless" appearance of Netanyahu in court is further evidence that the Likud boss is "dangerous," said Lapid.