Netanyahu Aide Says Israeli Leader Calm in Face of Charges — PM’s camp calls accusations a “witch hunt” — Opposition smells blood and wants to force Netanyahu out

JERUSALEM — A close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is relaxed and confident amid reports of the slew of corruptions charges against him.

Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev says Sunday she has full confidence in the prime minister and denounced what she called a media campaign to topple him.

Netanyahu himself did not address the latest developments at his weekly Cabinet meeting.

Israeli police recently announced that they suspect Netanyahu of being involved in bribery, fraud and breach of trust in a pair of cases. Netanyahu’s former chief of staff and longtime confidante has agreed to turn state witness and testify against his former mentor. This has raised speculation that Netanyahu could be indicted shortly.

Netanyahu has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and calls the accusations a witch hunt.



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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem May 21, 2017.. (photo credit:EMIL SALMAN/POOL)

Likud ministers and members of Knesset took to the media Sunday morning in support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following a weekend of dramatic developments in the police case that has him suspected of corruption and other criminal activities. Their main message to the press and the public is that the prime minister has done nothing wrong and that calls for his ousting are politically motivated and an unlawful attempt to depose the government by non-democratic means.

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Netanyahu is currently being investigated in three separate cases, nicknamed cases 1000, 2000, and 3000 by the press. He faces possible charges for accepting gifts from a wealthy friend in exchange for political favors, colluding with Yediot Aharonot’s publisher for favorable coverage, and for involvement in a corruption case surrounding the purchase of German submarines.

Netanyahu’s situation was complicated last week by the fact that his former chief of staff, Ari Harow, signed a state’s witness deal. By doing so, Harow is protecting himself – evading possible jail time to instead complete 6 months of community service and pay a 700,000 NIS fine – but also suggesting Netanyahu’s guilt.

Tzachi Hanegbi, a Likud MK and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of national security and foreign affairs, shared his doubts about the indictment process. In an interview on army radio, he said that the court’s reaching of a decision that would theoretically remove Netanyahu from office could take three or four years, meaning that it could come after the next elections take place in 2019.

Gil Hoffman @Gil_Hoffman
There wont be an indictment of @netanyahu b4 the next elex bc legal system in #Israel works very slowly, @Tzachi_Hanegbi tells @GLZRadio

Yisrael Katz, Minister of Transportation and Intelligence, as well as a member of the security cabinet, put out a statement in support of the prime minister.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be allowed to fulfill his duties in accordance with the mandate he received from the public, in a state of law and democratic rule, not to dismiss a prime minister based on media headlines, opposition demonstrations or partial investigative procedures. I trust the law enforcement system will carry out its work with the professionalism and responsibility required to enable the State of Israel to continue to deal adequately with the complex challenges it faces.”

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) on Saturday also stated that Netanyahu could stay in office even if he’s indicted.

“From the legal perspective, if there’s an indictment, the prime minister doesn’t have to resign,” Shaked explained on Channel 2’s Meet the Press. “There is the side of values, and that is a question that coalition parties will have to ask themselves if we reach that day, but we aren’t there. There’s still a long process.”

Shaked called for “letting the government and the prime minister do their jobs.”

Politicians from the opposition, meanwhile, take it as a given that Netanyahu should leave his post, some saying such a move has been long overdue. Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay told Army Radio Sunday that he believes the public has tired of leaders tainted by corruption and wrongdoing, but that he had few expectations from Netanyahu’s allies to stand up for the rule of law since it doesn’t serve them politically at the moment.

The Israeli public also had their say with two protests taking place near Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit’s home in Petah Tikva for the 37th consecutive Saturday night. One of the protests, attended by some 2,000 people, called for Mandelblit to indict the prime minister, while the other was a pro-Netanyahu counter-demonstration organized by coalition chairman David Bitan and fellow Likud lawmakers, which was attended by some 150 people.

Lahav Harkov and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.


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One Response to “Netanyahu Aide Says Israeli Leader Calm in Face of Charges — PM’s camp calls accusations a “witch hunt” — Opposition smells blood and wants to force Netanyahu out”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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