Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu served as a combat soldier and officer in the Matkal commando unit, the most elite unit in the Israel Defense Forces. The unit’s activity usually takes place behind enemy lines and requires precise, long-term planning. Soldiers train on models, every detail is learned in-depth, and a back-up plan is prepared for every possibility, including various extraction operations in the event the unit gets into trouble. Now, in 2019, almost five decades after he completed his military service, and with an indictment for bribery hovering over him, does Netanyahu have a backup plan? Is he preparing himself for an emergency extraction at the very last moment so that he can avoid the fate of his predecessor Ehud Olmert? Is he ready for some operation or other that will prevent him from becoming only the second Israeli prime minister to serve time behind lock and key?
When the police began “looking into” him at the order of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, Netanyahu was convinced the case would never blow up into a full-fledged criminal investigation. When the investigations against him began, Netanyahu in 2017 came up with the slogan “There won’t be anything because there wasn’t anything.’’ He seemed confident the investigations would end without any charges whatsoever. When the police recommended an indictment, he appeared confident the state attorney’s office would not accept the recommendation and would close the cases against him. When the state attorney’s office decided that it would indict him for bribery, Netanyahu claimed the attorney general — the highest hierarchy, above the state attorney — would realize how absurd it was and close the cases against him without any charges at all. When the attorney general decided to indict him, subject to a hearing, but reduced the charges in two of the cases from bribery to fraud and breach of trust, Netanyahu declared, “This house of cards will collapse.’’ The hearing is now over, the house of cards is as stable as ever, and the cases against him did not collapse. The indictment was made and presented to the Speaker of the Knesset.