Almost half of Israelis want Netanyahu to step down after corruption allegations

Almost half of Israelis want Netanyahu to step down after corruption allegations

Cheryl Sanders
February 15, 2018

The clarification from the Tata Sons came after media reports claimed that its chairman Ratan Tata's name figures in the Israeli Police's recommendations seeking to indict Netanyahu on bribery and breach of trust charges in two corruption cases.

"I can reassure you that the coalition is stable", Netanyahu said at an event in Tel Aviv.

A prime minister facing such police recommendations or who has been formally charged is not obliged to resign. "Those recommendations have no legal value in a democratic country", Netanyahu said in his address, referring to his own case.

"After reading the recommendations report, I can say that it is a biased, extreme document full of holes, like Swiss cheese".

In the second case, known as "File 2000", Netanyahu reportedly was recorded asking Arnon Mozes, the publisher of the Yediot Ahronot daily, for positive coverage in exchange for reining in a free pro-Netanyahu daily that had cut into Yediot's business. He accused police of being on a witch hunt, vowed to remain in office and even seek re-election.

A public debate has always been under way in Israel on whether Mandelblit, who has avoided interviews, might be reluctant to prosecute a sitting prime minister for the first time in Israeli history, especially one who promoted him through government ranks. The 68-year-old right-wing premier has been questioned seven times by police over the allegations and has called the investigation an attempt by political opponents to force him from office.

A decision on whether to press formal charges against him now rests with the attorney general´s office, which is expected to take weeks or months to decide how to proceed.

In Case 3000, members of Mr Netanyahu's close entourage, among them his cousin and personal lawyer David Shimron, will face corruption charges over a billion dollar submarine deal with Germany negotiated two years ago.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the far-right Jewish Home party, said: "I have chose to wait until the decision of the attorney general ..."

In his TV address, Netanyahu said that his entire three-decade political career, which included serving as Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, a stint at prime minister in the 1990s and a series of Cabinet posts, were meant only to serve the Israeli public.

Avraham Diskin, a political science professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said none of Netanyahu's coalition partners had any incentive to rock the boat.

Police have been investigating Netanyahu over suspicions that he and his family received expensive gifts from Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer.

In contrast to Mr Olmert, who eventually stepped down and was convicted and imprisoned, Mr Netanyahu is still relatively popular with the public and enjoys broad political support in his Likud party and among coalition partners - almost all of whom stand to lose power if elections were held today.

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