March 24, 2018

Nearly Half of Israelis Want Netanyahu to Resign Amid Corruption Scandal

15 February 2018, 07:01 | Taylor George

Poll: Likud stronger after police recommendations

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks in Tel Aviv Israel

The attorney general, who has the final say on whether to indict Netanyahu, has sharply criticized the police for rushing to recommend that the attorney general indict Netanyahu on bribery charges, Israel's Hadashot news reported on Wednesday.

"Let me reassure you: the coalition is stable. We will continue to work together with you for the people of Israel until the end of our term", he said to a gathering of local government officials in Tel Aviv.

The White House recently denied Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claim that he is in talks with the Trump administration on the annexation of Israeli settlements.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, a bitter rival of Netanyahu, called on him to suspend himself and for the coalition to appoint a replacement on Wednesday morning.

Beloved by his base and respected even by his adversaries as a guardian of Israel's security, Netanyahu remains the dominant figure on the Israeli stage, his combined 12 years as prime minister closing in on the record of David Ben-Gurion, Israel's principal founder.

The second investigation, Case 2000, alleged "bribery, fraud and breach of trust by the prime minister" relating to his dealings with Arnon (Noni) Mozes, publisher of the biggest-selling Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth. Netanyahu can remain in office during that process, which could drag on for months.

The police announcement that Mr Netanyahu's acceptance of almost $US300,000 ($381,000) in gifts from two billionaires amounted to bribery sent shockwaves through the Israeli political system and delivered a humiliating blow to Mr Netanyahu after years of allegations and investigations. "All of those attempts resulted in nothing, and this time again they will come to nothing", Netanyahu said in the televised address.

As damning as the recommendation sounds, it probably does not spell the downfall of one of the country's longest-serving prime ministers - at least not yet.

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The recommendations now go to Attorney General Avihai Mendelblit, who will review the material before deciding whether to file charges.

Lapid, who also called on Netanyahu to step down, was finance minister at the time one of the allegations took place.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett says that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is "not living up to the standard" expected of the office, but stopped short of calling for his resignation.

The opposition Labor Party has called on Netanyahu to resign, saying his coalition allies need to choose between supporting the prime minister and upholding the rule of law.

In Case 1000, Netanyahu is suspected of having received gifts from businessmen overseas totaling 1 million shekels (approximately $280,000), including cigars, champagne, jewelry and more, from 2007 through 2016.

While an indictment alone would not legally oblige Netanyahu to resign, he would likely face mounting pressure to do so.

Yair Lapid, head of the centrist opposition party Yesh Atid, said "there is no choice but to tell the truth when the police ask for explanations in a serious corruption case".

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