The left’s latest flagship, the Blue and White Party, is all the once vibrant political camp can put together now that it has lost its ideology. With its deity of peace killed by suicide bombers and missiles, and its socialism statues crushed under the weight of bankrupt government companies, all the left has left is “blue and white.” The party stands on two planks: destroying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and eternalizing the regime of Israel’s unelected bureaucrats.
The party’s figurehead—Benny Gantz—was tempted to join a unity government with Netanyahu that would guarantee he served as prime minister under a rotation agreement. But his comrades wouldn’t let him. Joining a government with Netanyahu would be a betrayal of their very reason for existing. So, unhappily, he walked away.
And then there was Netanyahu himself. On Thursday, his supporters shook their heads in frustration and his enemies clapped their hands in glee at the sight of Israel’s greatest statesman, the leader the public wants to keep in office, unable to form a government.
The conversation about Israel’s politicians lasted less than 24 hours.
At four in the afternoon, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s office announced that at 7:30 in the evening he would announce his decision to indict Netanyahu. The underlying message was crystal clear: The day after Gantz returned his mandate to form a government to President Reuven Rivlin after he failed to get a sufficient number of coalition partners to build a government, Mandelblit ruled that there’s no point in talking about whether or not Israel is going to new elections in March.
But then we already knew that. And the fact that—as expected—Mandelblit announced sternly that he is indicting Netanyahu on three charges of breach of trust and one charge of bribery was at best anticlimactic. The game was up—if it was ever in play—in February.
Last February, at the height of the first election campaign of the year, when Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition partners were leading in all polls by a wide margin, Mandelblit took the unprecedented—and legally dubious—step of announcing his intention to indict Netanyahu on those charges—pending a pre-indictment hearing. The moment he made his announcement, the right began to slide in the polls. The Leader had spoken, and we had no right to question him.
Ever since Mandelblit gave his “recommendations,” he and his comrades have been the only political actors with any power to speak of. Our actual elected leaders were rendered bit players in the lawyers’ regime. Mandelblit’s announcement Thursday just made it official.
Carefully edited and wholly distorted recordings and transcripts of police interrogations of Netanyahu, his wife, son and advisers were systematically leaked to the media. The fact that every such leak was a felony offense was of no matter. Netanyahu’s attorneys submitted request after request for Mandelblit to order an investigation of the criminal leaks. All were summarily and scornfully rejected.
As the probes escalated, overseen by State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, police investigators extorted Netanyahu’s closest advisers to coerce them into becoming state witnesses against the most successful and admired prime minister Israel has ever had. Investigators threatened Netanyahu’s former spokesman Nir Hefetz that they would destroy his family and bankrupt him if he didn’t turn on Netanyahu. They finally succeeded in breaking him after incarcerating him in a flea-infested jail cell for 15 nights, denying him sleep and medical treatment and bringing a young woman he knew into an interrogation room next to him and then threatening to destroy his family.