Netanyahu says ‘attempts to topple’ him will fail as leader suspected of fraud & bribery – media
“They are trying to get me, attempting to topple the Right,” Netanyahu, the second-longest serving leader in Israeli history, told senior members of his coalition in private conversations, as cited by Kan, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation.
“I have nothing to fear. I don’t think I have a problem,” he said.
The 67-year-old chairman of the right-wing Likud party is a suspect in two corruption investigations. The first one refers to allegations the politician received bribes from an Israeli-American businessman. In another case, Netanyahu is suspected of holding talks with an Israeli newspaper publisher about limiting competition in the news business in return for more positive coverage.
On Thursday, Israeli police for the first time publicly acknowledged that corruption investigations involving Netanyahu revolve around “bribery, fraud and breach of trust,” The Times of Israel reported.
On Friday, Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, Ari Harow, made headlines when he signed a state witness settlement agreeing to testify against his former boss, sparking speculation that Netanyahu could be indicted shortly.
Several opposition members have called on the Israeli PM to step down.
Labor party chief Avi Gabbay said “the citizens of Israel deserve a different leadership.”
“We no longer have any expectations of Netanyahu,” Channel 10 quoted Gabbay as saying, according to the Times of Israel. “This is no longer a matter of right or left but leaders that look out for the citizens,” he added.
Meretz party leader Zehava Galon called on coalition lawmakers to stop serving as Netanyahu’s “protective armor.”
“MKs [Members of Knesset] who continue to support the prime minister are serving as his protective armor and who are trying to convince us that there is campaign against him, bear heavy responsibility for the corruption of the state and democracy,” she said speaking at a cultural event.
Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon lashed out at Netanyahu on Twitter, saying there was a “war” going on over the image of leadership of the Right. “The Likud is a party, not one man who heads it,” he said.
The prime minister appears to be rather unmoved by his critics. “It’s not like I am going tomorrow and they are going to replace me,” he said, as quoted by Kan.
Netanyahu has repeatedly denied corruption allegations and any wrongdoing, calling the claims a “witch hunt” initiated by the media.
“There will be nothing because there was nothing,” Netanyahu’s office stated on Thursday, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported.
Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev rushed to Netanyahu’s defense. “Part of the media and the opposition are doing everything they can to topple the right and topple Netanyahu. It won’t help them,” he added, AP reported.
Meanwhile, some unnamed Likud ministers told The Jerusalem Post they felt uncomfortable defending Netanyahu, because, as the newspaper reports, “they believed he made mistakes he should not have made and they did not want to be associated with those mistakes.”
On Monday, Netanyahu posted on his Facebook page an article citing Palestinian sources as saying they expect the probes to topple him. “It won’t happen,” he concluded.