Israeli Opposition Hails 'End of Netanyahu', PM's Party Suspects 'Coup'

Israeli Opposition Hails 'End of Netanyahu', PM's Party Suspects 'Coup'

The Israeli police on Tuesday recommended that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

Defending himself on national television, Netanyahu said that the allegations were baseless and "will end with nothing".

"Over the years, I have been the subject of at least 15 inquiries and investigations", Netanyahu said.

They have also investigated an unconsummated deal the prime minister discussed with Arnon Mozes, publisher of the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, to pass legislation that would weaken another daily in exchange for more favorable coverage.

A premier who is facing such police recommendations or who has been formally charged with offences is not obliged to resign.

In return for the goods, Netanyahu allegedly approached U.S. officials and asked them to extend Milchan's visa to the US.

Lapid, according to the reports, gave evidence that the prime minister pushed to extend the period of time that new immigrants and returning residents could be exempt from declaring and paying tax on overseas income from ten years to 20 years - a move that could have saved billionaires such as Milchan millions of dollars had it not been thwarted by the Treasury.

The police recommendation will now go to Israel's Attorney General, Avichai Mendelblit, to decide on filing charges against the troubled prime minister.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) attends a conference on smart city challenges and threats in Tel Aviv, Israel, on February 14, 2018. But the Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, has said that Netanyahu has "not lived up to the standard" expected of Israeli leaders. "We will not avoid a decision, but I'm telling you right now, by law, the law says until the stage of the attorney general, there is no need to deal with it at all". As quoted by The Associated Press, he said, "I will continue to lead Israel responsibly and faithfully for as long as you, the citizens of Israel choose me to lead you".

His decision could take weeks or months.

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Hadad said Netanyahu was never involved in promoting Milchan's business interests and that he had actually acted against Milchan's interests on several occasions.

"Neither I nor anyone else has plans for elections".

Netanyahu has been serving as the prime minister of Israel since 2009 and previously held the position from 1996 to 1999.

While Labor Party Chairman Avi Gabbay suggested that "the Netanyahu era was over", either at the ballot box or through investigation, Netanyahu's fellow Likud party member, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said that the recommendation "exposed a coup against the voters".

"We will not let you make this a country where honest people are scared of speaking the truth", he said Wednesday to Netanyahu and his allies.

Echoing his position, Finance Minister and head of the center-right Kulanu party Moshe Kahlon said, "Let the [police] recommendations be published".

In a nationwide TV address, a stern-looking Netanyahu denied allegations that he accepted lavish gifts, including champagne and expensive cigars, from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan in exchange for doing favors.

Mr Netanyahu said he did so because Mr Milchan had done much for Israel and noted that the late Shimon Peres had also been close to Mr Milchan.

The attorney general's review of the case could take months, giving Netanyahu - who denies any wrongdoing - time to shore up his ranks further.

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