Netanyahu Shrugs Off Police Recommendations over Corruption amid Resignation Calls

Netanyahu Shrugs Off Police Recommendations over Corruption amid Resignation Calls

Wednesday, 14 February, 2018 - 12:30
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech on January 29, 2018. VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP
Asharq Al-Awsat
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday his coalition government remained stable and would continue to govern, dismissing police recommendations to indict him on corruption charges.

"I want to reassure you, the coalition is stable. No one, not I, not anyone else, has plans to go to an election. We will continue to work with you for the good of Israel's citizens until the end of the term," Netanyahu said at a conference in Tel Aviv.

His remarks came the morning after Israeli police made public their recommendations, presenting Netanyahu with one of the biggest challenges in his political career. It is now up to Israel's attorney general to decide whether to file charges, a process that could take months.

One of the cases, known as Case 1000, alleged the "committing of crimes of bribery, fraud and breach of trust by the prime minister, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu."

Police named Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood producer and Israeli citizen, and Australian businessman James Packer, saying they gave gifts that included cigars and jewelry to Netanyahu and his family.

In all, the merchandise was worth more than one million shekels ($280,000), the statement said.

The second, Case 2000, also alleged "bribery, fraud and breach of trust by the prime minister" relating to his dealings with Arnon Mozes, the publisher of the biggest-selling Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing in both police criminal investigations that have gone on for more than a year.

His lawyer, Amit Hadad, said the police recommendations are based on "false" statements.

He said the PM "didn't receive bribes at all. Not in a single day, not in a year, not at all."

Netanyahu’s allies from the Likud party also rallied to his defense.

Lawmaker David Amsalem dismissed Tuesday’s recommendations, saying police had committed "an illegitimate act here to attempt a coup d'etat in Israel."

Culture Minister Miri Regev also said the gifts Netanyahu received from Milchan were merely "relations between friends."

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a key Netanyahu ally, said the PM is "not living up to the standard" expected of the office, but stopped short of calling for his resignation.

Opposition leaders have called on Netanyahu to step down. 

Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay said Netanyahu's coalition party allies need to choose between supporting the prime minister and upholding the rule of law.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, whose Kulanu party is crucial to Netanyahu's government, urged on Facebook that the attacks on police cease, saying the legal system should be allowed to operate "without pressure, from neither right nor left."

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