On January 2, 2017, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu started off his year with a police interrogation, setting the tone for a political year dominated by the fallout from investigations into allegations that he received illegal gifts from businessmen and attempted to negotiate sympathetic coverage in Yediot Aharonot in exchange for weakening its competitor Israel Hayom.
Days later, the “French bill” was on the agenda, which was based on a French constitutional provision that exempts the president from criminal investigations – except in the Israeli version, it would apply to the prime minister.
The highly controversial bill was replaced by a different proposal later in the year, the “police recommendations bill,” which would bar police from recommending to the attorney-general whether to indict or not at the close of an investigation. That bill went through many changes in recent months, including narrowing its scope to not even include Netanyahu’s investigation, but is still the opposition’s top target ahead of a Knesset vote that’s been postponed many times.
The weekly demonstrations against corruption, which often looked more like rallies against Netanyahu or Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, grew larger and larger until they no longer fit in Mandelblit’s Petah Tikva neighborhood and in the last few weeks of the year moved to Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard.
At the end of January, Police Chief Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheikh said the investigations into the prime minister’s conduct would end in the coming weeks, but Netanyahu ended his year much as he began it, and was questioned again over Hanukka.