The Latest: Israel opposition calls on Netanyahu to resign
JERUSALEM – The Latest in Israel after police recommended corruption charges against embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (all times local):
Israeli opposition politicians are calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign following police recommendations that he be indicted for corruption.
Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay says 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.”
Meanwhile, Meretz party leader Zehava Gal-on said Kahlon, the finance minister, and also Education Minister Naftali Bennett — both key coalition partners — should “show Netanyahu the way out.”
Ofer Shelah, a lawmaker with the opposition Yesh Atid party, says criticism of his party’s leader Yair Lapid — a key witness in the case against Netanyahu — is “an attempt to divert the conversation from what happened.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s allies from the Likud party are rallying to his defense, a day after police recommended the attorney general indict him on corruption charges.
Likud party lawmaker David Amsalem, the coalition whip, dismissed the police recommendations.
He said on Wednesday that police had committed “an illegitimate act here to attempt a coup d’etat in Israel.”
He says “there are things that are forbidden to do in a democratic government and this is one of them.”
Culture Minister Miri Regev said the gifts Netanyahu received from American billionaire Arnon Milchan that were cited in the bribery charge were merely “relations between friends.”
Regev said in an interview with Israel Radio: “You’re allowed to receive presents from friends. To talk about bribery, you’ve got to point to something that was really done, not just words.”
She said there was no need for Netanyahu to step down.
Israeli police have recommended that Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on bribery and breach of trust charges in two corruption cases.
The development deals an embarrassing blow to the embattled prime minister and is likely to fuel calls for him to resign.
Following the announcement late on Tuesday, Netanyahu angrily rejected the accusations, which included accepting nearly $300,000 in gifts from two billionaires.
He accused police of being on a witch hunt and vowed to remain in office and even seek re-election.
An ashen-faced Netanyahu said in a televised address: “I will continue to lead the state of Israel responsibly and loyally as long as you, the citizens of Israel, choose me to lead you.”