Sputnik: The first lady may be sentenced to spend up to five years behind bars. What are your thoughts on the possible outcome of the trial for the first lady?
Wadie Abunassar: I believe the chances that she would go to prison are very low, although, now she's insisting that she's innocent and she's even refusing to have a plea bargain with the prosecution. I do believe that if the trial will continue she would reach a certain compromise in order to avoid any prison term.
Sputnik: What kind compromises do you think we could expect?
And there are now some reports that the Attorney General might unify all of these cases against the Netanyahus and this would affect seriously their political future.
Sputnik: What is the public opinion on this? I know there is such thing as trial by public opinion has this been the case regarding the first lady?
Wadie Abunassar: In Israel, we are witnessing a very unique and strange reality. On the one hand, if you go to the street almost every second citizen is criticizing the Netanyahus and is talking about their scandals. On the other hand, the Netanyahus are considered to be the King and Queen of Israel, they are enjoying certain immunity, but when it comes to the ballot box people still trust Netanyahu more than they trust most other Israeli politicians.
Sputnik: Don't trials like this really have a huge effect on their popularity?
Wadie Abunassar: There are two issues which are more important that these trials. The first issue is practically the lack of serious alternatives to Netanyahu in the Israeli political arena. Nowadays it's hard to talk about anyone who is really threatening Netanyahu politically.
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On the other hand, Netanyahu continues to be considered by the vast majority of Israeli Jews as Mr. Security, as the one who is protecting Israel's security and as such it seems that many Israeli Jews are ready to "forgive him" for his scandals as long as he's defending Israel's security.
Sputnik: Sara has also said that she is not guilty, what is your interpretation of what actually took place? There were reports that she was misappropriating funds, that she was using public money to support a lavish lifestyle, that they had hired very expensive chefs, that they had expensive French champagne, Cuban cigars, all of this sort of hedonistic lifestyle at the cost of the Israeli people…
It's not like in Western Europe that if a senior politician is "smelling badly" he has to quit. Here it might be an indication that he's powerful. Now, therefore, I do believe that for the vast majority of Israeli Jews they're ready to forgive. Now most people are not questioning if he took or didn't take, most people believe that he took something which he was not supposed to take, he and/or his wife. The question now is if he's allowed to stay in power or not and most Israeli Jews say that he can stay in power.
Sputnik: Is this going to be a jury trial? Who decides this case and what are the chances that there will actually be some influence on the person? To what extent is that person dependent on the prime minister?
So therefore, we are witnessing some hesitation. Some people say that this is due to complicated files; others say that because the two guys were close associates. You can speculate, but what is sure is that the process is very, very slow and this gives Netanyahu more time not only to remain in power but also to gain more power. And some people do believe that the Attorney General does hope that Israel will go to early elections and that by going to early elections things might change the whole procedure.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of Wadie Abunassar and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.