Netanyahu shrugs off police corruption claims
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday shrugged off police recommendations that he be charged with corruption, calling the allegations “biased, extreme: and “full of holes, like Swiss cheese” and vowing to remain in office.
Speaking at a meeting in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said his cabinet remains stable despite the police announcement, and that “the truth will come to light and nothing will come of this,” AP wrote.
“After I read the recommendations report I can say that this is a biased, extreme document full of holes, like Swiss cheese, and doesn’t hold water,” Netanyahu said.
He contended that the value of the gifts police alleged he received were inflated “beyond recognition,” and accused the report of “trying to create a false impression of exchanges that never existed.”
The police announcement late Tuesday that Netanyahu accepted nearly $300,000 in gifts from two billionaires dealt the embattled prime minister an embarrassing blow after years of investigations, but did not appear to immediately rattle his rule as reaction largely fell along partisan lines.
Nearly all of Netanyahu’s cabinet ministers issued statements of support and no coalition partners appeared ready to bolt.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, in charge of the police, said the prime minister “deserves the assumption of innocence,” while Netanyahu’s coalition whip, David Amsalem, accused the police of committing “an illegitimate act here to attempt a coup d’etat in Israel.”
Opposition politicians, meanwhile, called for Netanyahu to resign and urged his coalition allies to abandon his cabinet. Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay said that Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Education Minister Naftali Bennett — leaders of two of the larger parties in Netanyahu’s coalition — need to choose between supporting the prime minister and upholding the rule of law.
The police recommendations now go to Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit, who will review the material before deciding whether to file charges. Netanyahu can remain in office during that process, which is expected to drag on for months.
On Tuesday night, Netanyahu accused police of being on a witch hunt and vowed to remain in office and even seek reelection. Netanyahu has served as prime minister since 2009, and previously from 1996 to 1999.