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How Corruption Clouds Netanyahu’s Re-election Effort

Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin NetanyahuPhotographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
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The campaign ahead of Israel’s April 9 elections has largely been about one man: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Seeking his fifth term, and the chance to surpass founding father David Ben-Gurion as Israel’s longest-serving premier, Netanyahu has a string of accomplishments to brag about, even as he’s presided over a near total collapse in peace talks with the Palestinians. His top rival, former military chief Benny Gantz, hardly ever criticizes the premier’s record. But much of the country is fed up with Bibi, as Netanyahu is known, particularly because of the corruption charges swirling around him. That has complicated his bid to make history and given his long-frustrated opponents an opening.

At the end of February, Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit announced a draft indictment against Netanyahu, indicating his intent to charge the prime minister with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. That announcement was the culmination of a widespread corruption probe and set in motion what could prove to be a lengthy legal process. It marked the first time a sitting Israeli leader has come so close to criminal charges.