By Alex Traiman, Israel Hayom—
While Israel’s government remains in a period of unprecedented paralysis, embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains entrenched in his position, despite being handed a series of criminal indictments that have been followed by calls from political opponents as well as longtime supporters for him to step aside and allow someone else to take over, either from the opposition or from his own ruling Likud party.
Netanyahu has no plans to turn over the reins of Israel’s most complicated position to a less experienced leader, and two recent election cycles – while not giving Netanyahu a majority coalition – have still validated him as the Israeli politician with the strongest electoral backing.
Israeli law does not require a prime minister to step down while under indictment. The law does not even require his resignation if convicted, only after all appeals are exhausted. Yet the reason that Netanyahu will not step down isn’t simply that the law doesn’t force him to, but rather because he considers himself most qualified to lead the Jewish state in a period of immense challenges and strategic opportunities.
Chief among the challenges are what US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently referred to as the “malign activity” of a belligerent and unstable Iranian dictatorship that continues to threaten Israel while attempting to avoid a complete economic collapse due to a debilitating international sanctions regime. Opportunities include a strong, productive relationship with a friendly American president who has been, in Netanyahu’s estimation, the most pro-Israel president in US history.
Since Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit announced his intention to formally indict the prime minister, it has been business as usual for Netanyahu on both fronts. Israel has taken swift military action in Gaza and regarding Syria.
At an event in Ashkelon on Monday – a coastal city that has been the frequent target of rocket attacks launched from Gaza, less than 13 miles away – Netanyahu said, “I spoke yesterday with President Trump, a very important conversation for Israel’s security. We talked about Iran, but we also talked at length about historic opportunities that stand before us in the coming months. Among them are the Jordan Valley as the recognized eastern border of the State of Israel, as well as a defense treaty with the United States; things we could only dream of, but now we have the opportunity to realize them.” Continue Reading…..