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After bribery allegations, Netanyahu’s government stable – for now

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Key coalition companions stated on Wednesday they might follow Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for now, pending a choice by the legal professional basic whether or not to indict him for bribery as beneficial by police.

A choice might take months and Netanyahu’s government appeared stable for the time being. The proper-wing premier has strongly denied the police allegations, calling them “full of holes, like Swiss cheese”.

“I want to reassure you, the coalition is stable. No one, not I, not anyone else, has plans to go to an election,” Netanyahu instructed a convention in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, the day after police made their suggestions public.

“We will continue to work with you for the good of Israel’s citizens until the end of the term,” he stated.

Police on Tuesday stated that they had discovered enough proof for the 68-year-outdated Netanyahu to be charged with bribery in two separate instances, presenting him with one of many greatest challenges to his lengthy dominance of Israeli politics.


It is now as much as Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, a former army advocate basic and ex-cupboard secretary who was appointed to the nation’s prime authorized publish by Netanyahu, to resolve whether or not to file legal prices.

A public debate has lengthy been underneath method in Israel on whether or not Mandelblit, who has prevented interviews, is likely to be reluctant to prosecute a sitting prime minister for the primary time in Israeli historical past, particularly one who promoted him by government ranks.

Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing in each instances filed by police. With political alerts that the government remained stable, Israeli markets rose on Wednesday.

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the extremely-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu social gathering, stated that so long as Netanyahu was not convicted he ought to keep in workplace. “Truly, right now we are operating in a very synchronized way,” he stated.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the far-proper Jewish Home social gathering, stated: “I have decided to wait until the decision of the attorney general … Regarding the moral aspect, the public will decide on voting day.”

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who heads the centrist Kulanu social gathering, stated he would do the identical.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks throughout the Muni World 2018 convention in Tel Aviv, Israel February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Nir Elias

Avraham Diskin, a political science professor on the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, stated none of Netanyahu’s coalition companions had any incentive to rock the boat.

“We don’t see for the time being any sign of defectors from the coalition. Maybe individuals will defect,” Diskin stated. “I don’t see any kind of collapse in the foreseeable future.”


Signaling enterprise as common, Netanyahu has not modified plans to attend the annual Munich safety convention that begins on Friday.

Netanyahu attracts political energy partly from his shut ties with U.S. President Donald Trump, who in December reversed many years of U.S. coverage by recognizing Jerusalem because the capital of Israel, a transfer hailed by Israelis though Palestinians – who declare East Jerusalem for the capital of a future state – and leaders throughout the Middle East had been dismayed.

One of the instances towards Netanyahu, generally known as Case 1000, alleged the “committing of crimes of bribery, fraud and breach of trust” by the prime minister.

Police named Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood producer and Israeli citizen, and Australian businessman James Packer, as having given presents that included champagne, cigars and jewellery to Netanyahu and his household.

In all, the merchandise was value multiple million Israeli shekels ($280,000), the assertion stated. Any authorized proceedings would most likely concentrate on whether or not political favors had been sought or granted.

Netanyahu’s legal professionals stated the presents had been merely tokens of friendship. Milchan’s lawyer, Boaz Ben Zur, instructed Reuters that the bribery allegation towards his shopper was “baseless”.

“There is a very long process ahead, and we believe it will stop before any indictment,” Ben Zur stated.

In an emailed assertion, a spokesman for Packer stated: “There is no allegation of wrongdoing on Mr. Packer’s behalf. The Israeli and Australian police have confirmed that he was interviewed as a witness, not a suspect.”

The second investigation, Case 2000, alleged “bribery, fraud and breach of trust by the prime minister” regarding his dealings with Arnon (Noni) Mozes, writer of the largest-promoting Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

Netanyahu and Mozes, police stated, mentioned methods of slowing the expansion of a rival every day newspaper, Israel Hayom, “through legislation and other means”. Police stated they believed there was enough proof to cost Mozes with providing a bribe.

Navit Negev and Iris Niv-Sabag, legal professionals for Mozes, stated in an announcement: “Noni Mozes has strong legal arguments in his favor, and we believe that after an additional examination of the evidence by the prosecutor’s office the case against him will be closed and it will become clear that he committed no crime.”

Additional reporting by Ari Rabinovitch and Dan Williams; writing by Maayan Lubell; modifying by Stephen Farrell, Jeffrey Heller and Mark Heinrich

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