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Criminal Investigation Opened on Netanyahu Opponent Failed Start-Up

Although Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s key opponent has not been named as a target of the investigation, the timing – two weeks before the third attempt to elect a government – couldn’t be worse. Benny Gantz, the former army chief-of-staff who has battled incumbent Netanyahu to a tie in the race to head the next government, was the principal of a start-up that went bankrupt prior to the election cycle. The allegations leading to the probe were submitted to the prosecutors’ office by a politically-right wing organization prompting some to see the charges as an attempt to offset those Prime Minister Netanyahu will face in a corruption trial set to begin on March 17. Local media reports that senior members of the prosecutor’s office have expressed their displeasure at what they are calling a quick decision and of the timing of the announcement. But observers note that in light of the demands by Gantz’s associates for Netanyahu to step down because of an investigation, the commencement of the investigation of a business headed by Gantz could have an impact on the right-wing market both parties are targeting in a razor-thin race.