Centrist leader says Netanyahu should resign


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

Police say they have enough evidence to indict Milchan on charges of bribery.

The police accused Netanyahu of accepting almost Dollars 300,000 in gifts over 10 years.

"Over the years, I have been the subject of at least 15 inquiries and investigations", Netanyahu said. "All of those attempts resulted in nothing, and this time again they will come to nothing".

The other case, 2000, concerns the publisher of a leading Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, whereby Netanyahu, in secret talks, allegedly requested positive coverage in exchange for damaging a competitor, the pro-Netanyahu freesheet Israel Hayom.

Police said the editor of Yediot Aharonot, Arnon Mozes, should also face charges. "Lapid said that he was questioned about this for an hour, but when I was questioned by police they barely brought the point up", Netanyahu said to local authority officials at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds.

Police said Netanyahu had been suspected of trying to help Milchan receive tax benefits in Israel, of assisting him in receiving a visa in the United States and of promoting his business interests.

Police say they found evidence Netanyahu traded his influence for favors, a nonbinding conclusion that Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit will have to weigh as he decides whether to file charges against a sitting Israeli premier for the first time.

A public debate has always been under way in Israel on whether Mandelblit, who has avoided interviews, might be reluctant to prosecute a sitting prime minister for the first time in Israeli history, especially one who has promoted his career. "We will not let you lead the country to a place where honest people are afraid to tell the truth", Lapid said in a special statement to the media.

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In a press conference Tuesday, Netanyahu called the recommendations "ludicrous" and claimed the investigations were meant to topple his government.

Police recommended indicting Milchan and the publisher, Arnon Moses, with bribery as well.

"Neither I nor anyone else has plans for elections". Approval for Netanyahu's indictment has grown in magnitude within the Knesset over recent months, originally stemming mostly from the left-wing opposition parties but has since gained traction within the ruling right-wing coalition as the inevitably of his indictment grew.

In a strike against the police chief after the interview, Likud MK Yoav Kisch, a hardline supporter of Netanyahu from within the Prime Minister's party, summoned Alsheich to a meeting of the Interior Committee at the Knesset for Wednesday morning.

"Taking gifts in large sums over a long period of time is not living up to this standard", he added, while stressing Netanyahu was innocent until proven guilty and that he would wait for the attorney general's decision.

His wife allegedly received bottles of pink champagne.

"Even the sceptics, those who believe that there is no pit Netanyahu can not extricate himself from, understand that this is the beginning of the end", Ms Kadmon said.

Mr Lapid said that, as a law-abiding citizen, he gave a short testimony upon request of the police and he called on Mr Netanyahu to resign.

Both claims against Mr Netanyahu, which the leader denies, represent one of the biggest challenges to his long dominance of Israeli politics.