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The Maastricht Diplomat

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Benjamin Netanyahu: Israel’s PM on the Brink of the Abyss

Israel. Rarely has there been a single word that conjures up such a divisive opinion. And it continues to impress in that regard. Current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu of the right-wing Likud party and leader of the Knesset coalition, is finding himself not only on the brink of a war with regional power Iran but deeply embroiled in two corruption cases and named in two more.

The main cases, named Case 1000 and Case 2000, go back to 2016 when Netanyahu received gifts of champagne, cigars, jewellery, and clothing, in exchange for favours. Israeli billionaire and Hollywood film producer, Arnon Milchon, reportedly sent Mr Netanyahu gifts in exchange for his lobbying to then US Secretary of State John Kerry for a ten-year visa. In the same case, Australian billionaire James Packer reportedly sent Mr Netanyahu gifts in exchange for permanent residence in Israel as well as tax status. Netanyahu has stated that he accepted the gifts but denies granting any favours in return. The second case, named Case 2000, is centred around the media. Arnon Mozes, of the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, allegedly offered Mr Netanyahu favourable coverage in exchange for pushing through legislation that would limit the circulation of a rival publication, Israel Hayom. Currently, Israel Hayom is a freely circulated publication and the intended legislation would force it to become a paid for publication, thereby limiting its circulation and reducing its rivalry with Yedioth Ahronoth. Prime Minister Netanyahu is reported to say that he “never intended to seal a deal” with Mr Mozes. The Israeli leader is also mentioned in two more corruption cases, Case 3000 and 4000 respectively, but is not the subject of investigation in either. Case 3000 revolves around allegations surrounding the tender of a $2bn contract between the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) and German manufacturer ThyssenKrupp over the production and sale of submarines and naval attack vessels. David Sharon, a former bureau defence minister for Mr Netanyahu, has been arrested over charges of accepting bribes and former Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon has claimed the Mr Netanyahu is responsible for urging the cancellation of a previous tender to make way for ThyssenKrupp.

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