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‘It’s a smoke show’: Netanyahu’s criminal indictment takes backseat to Trump plan

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In the midst of the global media frenzy surrounding US President Donald Trump’s revelation of his peace plan, a key piece of news got swept up in the mix: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was officially indicted on charges of corruption.

The move came after Netanyahu decided to drop his last-ditch effort to avoid prosecution by requesting parliamentary immunity.

Netanyahu said he was pulling his request, which was scheduled to take place on Tuesday, because he felt he would not have been given a fair trial anyway, calling it “the immunity circus” in a post on Facebook Tuesday morning.

“Since I was not given due process, because all the rules of Knesset work were trampled on, and since the results of the procedure were pre-dictated without proper discussion, I decided not to let this dirty game continue,” he said.

“I will not allow my political opponents to use this matter to interfere with the historic move I am leading,” Netanyahu said, referring to his collaboration with Trump on the peace plan.

Following Netanyahu’s announcement that he was no longer seeking parliamentary immunity, Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit filed a 78-page indictment to the Jerusalem District Court, paving the way for a court date to be set for Netanyahu.

Netanyahu’s political rivals, including Benny Gantz, who said “no one can run a state and at the same time manage three serious criminal cases for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.”

But the news of the indictment, which marked the first time a sitting Israeli prime minister has been indicted on criminal charges, was quickly swept aside as Trump unveiled the details of his peace plan, with a smiling Netanyahu at his side.

While Trump implored Palestinians in his speech to adhere to international standards against financial and political corruption, he made no mention of the bribery, corruption, and fraud charges brought against Netanyahu just hours before.

As reactions to Trump’s proposal poured in from around the world, many critics pointed to Netanyahu’s indictment and the ongoing impeachment hearings against Trump as reason to cast doubt on the pair’s political agenda.

Palestinians and their supporters have accused Trump and Netanyahu of putting on a political stunt to distract from the problems plaguing each of their careers at the cost of the Palestinian people.

In Ramallah, Palestinian protesters told Mondoweiss on Tuesday night that they were outraged by the “show” put on by Trump and Netanyahu, without regard for the desires of the Palestinian people.

“This is clearly a distraction, a kind of smoke show, to distract from their problems,” Elaal Jaber, 20, said. “Trump and Nentanyahu are both criminals, and we are supposed to accept their plans for us?”

“The right of return is not included, Jerusalem is carved up, and we won’t have control of our borders,” Jaber continued. “There’s no way any Palestinian would agree to any of this.”

Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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  1. Misterioso on January 29, 2020, 7:37 pm

    “Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ is no deal at all”

    Washington Post, January 29/20, by Ishaan Tharoor

    “Maybe in the early stages of his presidency, it seemed plausible that a figure as sui generis as President Trump could untangle the Gordian knot of Middle East peace. But rather than working to bridge the profound gap between Israelis and Palestinians that bedeviled U.S. policymakers for decades, the Trump administration has spent the past three years doling out concessions to the former, while placing its boot on the latter.

    “And so it was not surprising when Trump laid out his supposed ‘deal of the century’ on Tuesday afternoon that the White House’s proposal looked less like a possible agreement than a declaration of terms for Palestinian surrender.

    “The Trump administration’s now-published “vision for peace,” the culmination of what the president said was ‘a long and very arduous process,’ outlines a scenario in which Israel maintains sovereignty west of the Jordan river, a capital in an undivided Jerusalem, and control over Jewish enclaves and settlements scattered through the Palestinian territories.

    “The Palestinians, meanwhile, get … not much. In Trump’s scheme, backed by Netanyahu, they would give up the claims of Palestinian refugees and accept a conditions-based path to statehood in a patchwork of territory carved up by Israeli roads and settlements. Trump’s plan cedes security control of the eastern border with Jordan wholly to Israel, calls for the dismantling of Palestinian militant groups and allots a Palestinian capital on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem — rather than in East Jerusalem proper, as envisioned by the international community and successive U.S. administrations.

    “Netanyahu made clear in the White House what this meant: ‘On this day,’ he said, addressing Trump, ‘you became the first world leader to recognize Israel’s sovereignty … in areas of Judea and Samaria’ — the biblical terms for the West Bank commonly invoked in Israel — ‘that are vital to our security and central to our heritage.’ Shortly after the remarks, reports came that Netanyahu’s government plans to vote a vote on annexation of some 30 percent of the West Bank as early as this weekend.

    “None of this, of course, was brokered with the Palestinians, who were absent from the room and rejected talks with Trump officials once it became clear how one-sided their approach was. There were a handful of Arab ambassadors in attendance, but none from states that have served as key interlocutors to the Palestinians — including Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, most Arab states have already disengaged from or spoken out against the Trump-led initiative.

    “Palestinians angrily rejected Trump’s plan. “After the nonsense that we heard today we say a thousand no’s to the ‘deal of the century,’ ” said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. ‘We will not kneel and we will not surrender.’

    “But the unveiling of Trump’s plan presents a dead end for Abbas, whose primary role is that of the custodian of a moribund peace process that was supposed to lead to a two-state solution. The archipelago of Palestinian enclaves proposed by Trump — subordinate to Israeli security concerns and more akin to the bantustans’ of apartheid-era South Africa — is emphatically not that.

    “Trump and boosters of the plan argue that his approach is a more ‘realistic’ reflection of the facts on the ground. Israeli settlements in the West Bank and permanent control over the Jordan Valley are, in this view, a fait accompli. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East point man, has argued that Palestinian political aspirations aren’t as important as the economic development of their territories — a perspective emphatically opposed by most Palestinians, who won’t trade their hopes for equal political rights for cash incentives.

    “Critics contend that Trump is taking the fundamental power asymmetry between the Israelis and Palestinians and pressing it to his and Netanyahu’s advantage. ‘Trump is creating not only a new Israel, but a new world,’ wrote Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy. ‘A world without international law, without honoring international resolutions, without even the appearance of justice.’

    “The timing is also conspicuous. The two men, beaming onstage in the East Room of the White House, are fighting for their political lives: Trump is the subject of an ongoing Senate impeachment trial and, on Tuesday, Israel’s attorney general filed criminal indictments against Netanyahu on corruption charges. The cases will shadow his re-election bid in March.

    “Moving forward, plans for perennial Israeli primacy over the Holy Land are powerful sops to key political constituencies for both leaders — Christian evangelical voters for Trump and the nationalist Israeli right for Netanyahu. ‘This is about Trump. This is about Netanyahu. It isn’t about peace,’ said Husam Zomlot, head of the Palestinian mission in Britain, in an interview with the BBC.

    “In a separate conversation with Reuters, Zomlot pointed to what happens after the United States and the rest of the world give up the ghost of the two-state solution and dismiss Palestinian calls for equal political rights. ‘January 28, 2020, will mark the official legal stamp of approval from the United States for Israel to implement a fully-fledged apartheid system,’ said Zomlot. ‘History will mark the name of Trump as the one who pushed Israel in the wrong direction.'”

  2. Kay24 on January 30, 2020, 5:52 am

    This is indeed a farce, a one sided peace plan, and at a glance shows it was orchestrated and written by the occupier’s crooked PM, and his two servants, Trump and Kushner. Career diplomats, world leaders, and experts, have come up with peace plans, but it was rejected by both sides, at one time or the other, and who in their right mind thinks a totally biased man like Kushner, whose bed Netanyahu has slept in, who got his father in law to move the US embassy to Jerusalem (and showed nothing but scorn for the Palestinians who were being killed by Israeli snipers at that moment protesting the outrage), whose family has encouraged illegal settlements, can read 25 books and become an expert in peace? Who in their right mind thinks he is an honest broker?

    “I’ve been studying this now for three years,” Kushner said. “I’ve read 25 books on it, I’ve spoken to every leader in the region, I’ve spoken to everyone who’s been involved in this.”

    Really? This man who as a real estate expert made the biggest blunder by buying a billion dollar piece of real estate, which resulted in him going around the Middle East with hat in hand, begging for help from Muslims, that his father in law hates, to pay his debts? He has made sure his beloved Israel has been given the lion share, and now looks down at the Palestinians for not being grateful enough for being given the crumbs Netanyahu, Trump, and he, throws at them.

    This is no peace plan, it is a large piece of real estate that he has gifted to his zionist buddies, illegal settlements and all.

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