JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Just a few short months ago, after Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit announced that he was pressing charges against Prime Minister Netanyahu on counts of bribery,corruption and breach of trust, the long-serving prime minister’s career appeared to be heading for an ignominious conclusion. Ostracized by his political rivals who refused even to consider sitting with him in a government and villified by his former buddy Avigdor Liberman, Netanyahu appeared to be a lone, embattled leader who had failed repeatedly to form a government even before his legal problems were exacerbated by the indictment. Having failed despite his superior political finesse and experience to defeat rookie Benny Gantz on two previous occasions, it appeared as if the entire establishment -both political and judicial- was set on removing him from office.
Yet like a phoenix ascending from the ashes, Netanyahu utilized the position of scapegoat to his maximum advantage and managed to bring the Likud masses back to the polling booth to express their disgust both at the charges leveled against him and at the delegitimisation campaign by the left-wing which they took as a personal affront to themselves. The straw which broke the camel’s back for most voters was the attempt by the judiciary to disqualify Netanyahu from forming a government while under criminal indictment. If the presumption of innocence is a cardinal tenet of law and if the person most suited to lead the country enjoys the presumption of innocence, then who are the judges and attorney-generals to decide otherwise?
Netanyahu was also generously helped by his bemused friend Donald Trump, himself no stranger to judicial troubles. Trump released his peace plan at the perfect moment, energizing Israel’s right-wing and embarrassing the left-wing into tagging along with the plan. For Netanyahu this was the realization of a dream and he took full advantage of the photo op in Washington to bask in the glory of the new American stance regarding Judea and Samaria, garnering yet more votes from starry-eyed religious Zionists who believe in his messianic powers.
Ultimately Netanyahu will have to stand and face the charges against him, but he will do so from a position of power and influence and with a majority of the country standing behind him and protesting his innocence rather than from the political impasse which has plagued Israel from the past year.