‘Trump showing Netanyahu new way to fend off allegations’

I was interviewed by Balkans Post on 4/3/2019

A British-Palestinian engineering professor believes U.S. President Donald Trump’s unorthodox dealings with accusations of misconduct have shown Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a new way to fend off allegations against him.

“Trump has thus far proved to be a survivor despite mounting criticism and it may be that Netanyahu can also succeed and survive,” said Kamel Hawwash in an interview with the Balkans Post.

The full transcript of the interview is below:

Balkans Post: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces possible charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three cases. How big a threat does this pose to his political future?

Kamel Hawwash: Netanyahu has faced accusations of misconduct before but has seen them off. The current round seems more serious and the Attorney General appears more confident of success. This is clearly damaging to Netanyahu in the run-up to the elections and his opponents will use this to their maximum advantage. Kahol Lavan, the newly-formed alliance between Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, will overtake Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud according to a new Yedioth Ahronoth poll. The threat to Netanyahu is therefore from both the indictments and the newly formed part.

BP: The Israeli premier, who faces an election, said in a TV address that the case would “collapse like a house of cards”. What’s your prediction?

Kamel Hawwash: From the available reports, this seems unlikely and it may be that should he lose the elections, the vigour with which this is pursued increases.

BP: How secure is his position within the Likud party?

Kamel Hawwash: There are no indications that Netanyahu is likely to face challenges from within Likud for his position. Unlike his predecessor Olmert who resigned in the face of mounting allegations in 2008, Netanyahu isn’t going anywhere.

BP: Netanyahu has behaved much the same as the world’s strongmen. Another thing he has in common with them is corruption. Do you think he will face the same fate as well?

Kamel Hawwash: According to the allegations, it does seem that Netanyahu has taken more risks with his personal conduct in recent years than he had at the beginning of his reign. A number of Israeli politicians including former Prime Minister Olmert and President Katzav went to jail and therefore it is possible that if the cases against him proceed there is a chance that he could face the same fate. However, he is a very skilled operator who may find a way of wriggling out of these allegations.

BP: On Sunday, he posted an ad featuring a clip from “Fox & Friends,” in which co-host Pete Hegseth calls the potential charges against Netanyahu “trumped up” and from Israel’s “deep state.” This is reminiscent of U.S. President Donald Trump’s conduct. What would you say about this?

Kamel Hawwash: It does seem that Trump’s arrival in the White House and his unorthodox dealings with many issues, including accusations of misconduct which he simply refutes, have shown Netanyahu a new way to fend off allegations against him. Trump has thus far proved to be a survivor despite mounting criticism and it may be that Netanyahu can also succeed and survive.

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