Netanyahu has the support of the right، but at what cost?
Friday 01/March/2019 - 10:08 AM
Ynetnews - By Moran Azulay
Shortly after the attorney general published his recommendations to indict Benjamin Netanyahu for fraud، bribery and breach of trust، most of the prime minister's coalition partners issued messages of support that were consistent in their theme. Not only did these parties back Netanyahu، but after the April 9 elections، they would recommend to the president that he be the one to form the next government.
The only exception was Kulanu، an offshoot of Netanyahu's Likud led by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon، which at the time of writing had yet to issue a statement.
Senior officials in Likud said the fact that the legal process is being conducted during the election campaign has led Netanyahu to strategize every move and every quote made to the media، with the main goal being to prevent the leak of votes from the right-wing bloc.
Netanyahu also made a point of repeating the messages already heard in the campaign، and stood in front of an election poster with the slogan "Netanyahu، a strong right."
A senior Likud official told Ynet that، "Netanyahu is mainly concerned with ending this campaign with an election victory، and besides that he is working on how to form the next coalition. He understands that there is plenty of time until the (pre-indictment) hearing، but the clock is already ticking until the polls open."
The right wing parties realize that their electorate expects them to support the prime minister and have already begun to toe the party line.
"As we have said from the start، the prime minister has a presumption of innocence like any other citizen in the country،" said Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett's New Right party.
"We respect the attorney general's decision، but as the attorney general said in his own words that he will come to the hearing with 'an open heart and a willing soul،' so will we wait for the end of the hearing."
Avigdor Lieberman، chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu، was also quick to declare that his party would have no problem sitting with Netanyahu in the next coalition.
"In the State of Israel، the only body authorized to determine whether a person is guilty or acquitted is the court،" Lieberman said. "The presumption of innocence is reserved for every person، including the prime minister. Filing an indictment subject to a hearing is not a final judgment. Therefore، as far as we are concerned، the prime minister is entitled to run in the Knesset elections like any other candidate."
The ultra-Orthodox parties also repeated the messages of the past few days. Shas has made it clear that there is no other candidate it supports but Netanyahu، and not only will they recommend him to the president but also back him during his term of office، for as long as the law permits it.
In United Torah Judaism، too، the message was similar: "We support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu، who enjoys the presumption of innocence، and as long as the law allows، we will continue to support him، especially during this sensitive period."
Nonetheless، political sources believe that due to the legal complications he now faces، Netanyahu will find the task of forming a government more onerous، and it is possible that in view of his demands of loyalty، he will be expected to pay a higher price next time، if he does indeed find himself in that position.