We know the story, in general terms: In certain cases, Netanyahu heard recommendations from heads of the defense establishment, and made a different decision after consulting his family members.
We are all aware of two of these cases: The decision to install metal detectors at the entrances to the Temple Mount after the terror attack that took place there, and the televised embrace of the security guard who killed two Jordanian nationals at the Israeli Embassy in Amman. In both these incidents, the decisions made by Netanyahu matched the expectations of his political base, but harmed state security. More importantly, they were foolish and childish decisions.
There may have been other incidents. His conduct in these incidents points to a distorted list of priorities and to weak-mindedness. It calls for a profound public discourse and perhaps, at some point, a commission of inquiry. It doesn’t appear criminal, however. A prime minister is allowed to make foolish decisions. Only if it turns out that the son or his mother received envelopes from someone for the advice they gave would it be possible to refer to these incidents in criminal terms.
The growing influx of state’s witnesses is far from exciting too. There is more than a grain of truth in the statement issued by Netanyahu's bureau, that if you have clear-cut evidence you don’t need so many state’s witnesses.
Past experience calls for some skepticism: The Rabbi Pinto affair became a laughingstock. Pinto ran what the police refer to as an organized crime group. He promised the State Attorney’s Office the world if it signed a state’s witness agreement with him, and it ended with trivialities. Meanwhile, the distinguished rabbi has been released from his symbolic prison term and has denied his admission. The witness fooled the state.
Ari Harow, Netanyahu's former chief of staff, got caught red-handed in his own offenses. The State’s Attorney’s Office basically forgave his crimes in exchange for incriminating information in the Netanyahu cases. We still don’t know what Harow gave the investigators, whether the information could have been extracted from him without a deal, and whether the information he provided justified pardoning him.
The same applies to Miki Ganor, the main criminal in the submarine affair. Time will tell whether Ganor is a maritime version of Rabbi Pinto.
Shlomo Filber, the former Communications Ministry director-general, claimed throughout his term that all his actions were in the state’s best interest, and were not aimed at benefiting Bezeq or Netanyahu. After being offered a state’s witness agreement which would exempt him from all charges, he changed direction: Now, he says he operated as part of a secret deal between Shaul Elovitch and Netanyahu—benefits worth NIS 1 billion in return for favorable news coverage.
If he provided evidence strengthening the case against the two, so be it, we can accept the status he was given. If the main thing he provided was his testimony, why should we believe him?
This applies even more strongly to Nir Hefetz, the new purchase in the state’s witnesses pool. As soon as Hefetz was arrested, I confidently assumed he would negotiate his testimony. Hefetz was willing to sit in custody for Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu for a day or two. A week at the most. There’s a limit to his loyalty.
But Hefetz has been lying from every stage in recent years. He believed that his position as a PR agent allowed him to lie: That’s the profession, those are the orders. He wasn’t the only one: The prime minister’s bureau turned lying into a tool, into a norm. It may not be criminal, but it’s morally corrupt. I didn’t believe a word he said before he turned state’s witness, and I have no reason to believe him now.
Hefetz was accused of obstruction of evidence and of involvement in deals reeking of bribery. He lied in court and he lied to his lawyer. The question is: Does what he gave the investigators justify the exemption he received from all the offenses he was suspected of? Did he give them new information about criminal acts? Did he provide them with evidence? If all he gave is his willingness to serve as a witness for the prosecution in court, the deal isn’t worth much. The defense counsels will destroy his credibility within minutes.
Harow, Filber and Hefetz were high-ranking government workers. Now that they have confessed to offenses, we can ask them—and those who came after them: What were you thinking when you did what you did? Didn’t you owe anything to the state, which provided for you, which lifted you up? Why did you keep quiet? In the end, it was only the smell of Lysol in prison that broke your silence.
The willingness to sign more and more deals, to forgive more and more criminals, indicates that the attorney general is convinced that at least one case, Case 4000, will end in a bribery trial. But it also points to the attorney general’s concerns. He put a lot of eggs in one basket. Unfortunately, they’re all rotten eggs.