Google Search

Newsletter : 7fax0423.txt

Directory | Previous file | Next file

>Israel Faxx
>JN April 23, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 72

Israel in the Wake of Netanyahu's Problems

By Deborah Cooper (VOA-Washington)

Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not face criminal charges for now in the political scandal which has rocked his government, it's not so certain what impact the affair will have on his ability to lead.

Israel's chief prosecutors cited insufficient evidence as the reason for not indicting Netanyahu on fraud and breach of trust charges as Israeli police had recommended. The affair stems from allegations against Netanyahu that he appointed an attorney general in January under pressure from the leader of the ultra-religious Shas party. Its leader Aryeh Deri has been implicated in the same case and may be indicted on charges of fraud, extortion and obstruction of justice.

Deri, it is alleged, expected favorable treatment from the appointment of Roni Bar on as attorney general in his ongoing trial for corruption in another matter. The Shas party controls 10 seats in the Israeli Knesset and could cause the collapse of the fragile Likud-led coalition should it withdraw its support.

George Washington University Prof. Bernard Reich says even without an indictment of Netanyahu the issue is not dead. "This is a combination of legal and political questions. The problem of course is that even though the prime minister is not going to be charged, certainly there are questions about the mechanisms that were used for choosing members of the government at senior ranks, certainly the opposition will continue to press this issue on all counts as far as it can.

"Clearly, the Labor party has made it obvious that a national unity government is not in the cards in the moment. Shimon Peres who is still the leader of the Labor party has called for early elections. There will be a continuing set of efforts on both sides to take advantage of the issue and on the other hand to try and prevent it from further hurting the government or reducing its powers."

Reich adds that for now there is no imminent danger of the government collapsing. But the continued loyalty of some parties that make up the ruling coalition is not certain.

"Certainly the status of the Shas party in the government, considering the fact that its leader Mr. Deri is, of course, likely to be indicted. That will raise major questions and the Shas party does control 10 seats in parliament which are critical. At the same time it may well be that the party of Mr. Sharansky will also reassess exactly where it wants to be in the broad scheme of things, although for now it seems to be fairly straightforward that it will remain in the government."

Reich is referring to the Russian immigrant party of Natan Sharansky which controls seven seats in the Israeli parliament. Sharansky says that his party will demand political reform in exchange for its continued support of the government.

Netanyahu has pledged to continue with the peace process despite his domestic problems. But some political analysts speculate that with a weakened government, Netanyahu may find it very difficult to make any further concessions to the Palestinians. Reich suspects the political scandal will postpone any movement that might generate a breakthrough in the peace process.

"Clearly, the fact that the Labor party will now not even consider a national unity government does weaken one approach to the peace process. Secondly, the prime minister still has to get things back under control and he has to see what impact this will all have with regard to the size of his coalition and in fact the actual distribution of it. Until he's certain that he can move ahead with his existing policies he's going to be a bit more cautious. I think we're going to see the process slow down for a while I think we're not likely to see any particular movement in the short term and all of that I think will effect the process.

"As long as Labor and the other opposition parties continue to push on the existing issue this is likely to preoccupy the prime minister, and until the indictments are determined, until the judicial process moves ahead he certainly is going to focus and watch on that more carefully in the short term. And the peace process will just linger I suspect a bit longer."

Home Search

(All material on these web pages is © 2001-2012
by Electronic World Communications, Inc.)

Read today's issue
Who is Don Canaan?
IsraelNewsFaxx's Zionism and the Middle East Resource Directory