Skip to main content

Netanyahu conducting his trial outside courthouse

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to play for time and drag the trial against him for many months and perhaps even years.
Supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu take part in a protest outside the Prime Minister's Residence, on the day when Netanyahu's corruption trial starts, in Jerusalem May 24, 2020. Heidi levine/Pool via REUTERS - RC23VG9JYPOZ

A scene that was once deemed impossible was captured on film May 24. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chaired a Cabinet meeting in the morning and appeared in court before three judges in the afternoon. The omnipotent leader of Israel already broke Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s record by governing for 11 consecutive years — and 14 years in total. Now, however, he was standing trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of public trust. From that moment onward, Israel was facing an unprecedented situation: The state itself was pressing charges against the man who leads it.

There can be no doubt that the only person who could generate such a scenario without blinking an eye is Netanyahu himself. As of now, this image will be part of his historic legacy, overshadowing all his other activities and achievements. In the upcoming year and a half, before he is slated to hand his position over to Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Netanyahu will make the most concerted effort of his life to overturn this legacy and create one that is far more distinguished. He wants to enter the history books, not prison.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 for annual access.