Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been indicted by the country’s attorney general on charges of corruption and fraud. While this does not mean that he has to resign as PM — Israeli law only requires convicted Prime Minister’s to resign — many are wondering if we are finally seeing the end of “Bibi, the King of Israel”. With a career spanning decades, he is Israel’s longest serving head of government.
Professor Ilan Pappé, of the University of Exeter, who has been dubbed “Israel’s bravest historian”, wades in on the Netanyahu debate: “For him [Netanyahu], the most important thing is to get to a parliament that would sustain his immunity, which means he could not be put to trial,” Pappé tells MEMO. “That’s plan A.”
“There is a plan B, which is really to create almost an atmosphere of civil war within Israeli Jewish society… This is a more risky, of course, project, less controllable.”
Professor Pappé cautions against overly optimistic readings of the Netanyahu affair. “We should say that he still has quite a lot of support among North African Jews, among the less fortunate sections of society, among nationalist, religious settlers. It is still a sizeable group of people who believe him… [His supporters see] that what the courts are doing is just political and has nothing to do with justice; that this is an attempt to depose him through the court system.”
Nevertheless, Pappé believes that the Prime Ministerial reign of “King Bibi” is coming to an end. “I don’t think he will hold on for very long, but you know he is… he has succeeded so many times. We buried him so many times then he came back, so I don’t know. I am really not willing to predict whether he will be with us as a Prime Minister, let’s say, in the next 5 or 6 years.”