Benjamin Netanyahu should face bribery charges

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would continue to lead Israel despite the police recommendations to indict him for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in two corruption cases, which were leaked prior to their publication on Tuesday night.

In a televised statement Tuesday, Netanyahu said that the allegations against him would come to nothing. He also is suspected of offering preferential treatment to a newspaper publisher in exchange for favorable coverage.

Netanyahu, prime minister for almost 12 years, addressed the nation as news of the recommendations broke, proclaiming his innocence and making clear he had no intention of resigning.

"I feel a deep obligation to continue to lead Israel in a way that will ensure our future", he said.

Police separated allegations against Netanyahu, who has been Prime Minister since 2009, into two cases.

The opposition Labor Party has called on Netanyahu to resign, saying his coalition allies need to choose between supporting the prime minister and upholding the rule of law.

It is now up to Israel's attorney-general to decide whether to file charges.

Dismissing the chance that he would step down if police recommend an indictment, Netanyahu said, "half the recommendations from police end in nothing". But it would certainly cripple his ability to govern in what is already a shaky coalition government of hard-liners and liberals. Netanyahu and his allies also tried to discredit the police investigation and cast it as a political witch hunt.

Netanyahu, who seemed to be waiting for police announcement last week, denied being bribed and announced that he will remain in office despite police report. In the meantime the prime minister is ready to fight it.

"I think it's clear here that this government needs to go to elections". Police said the publisher of Yediot Aharonot, Arnon Mozes, should also face charges.

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"Those recommendations have no legal value in a democratic country", Netanyahu said in his address, referring to his own case.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, whose centre-right Kulanu party controls 10 seats, will be among those facing tough questions over whether he will stick with Netanyahu.

"This time things will end without anything".

But it is the favors Netanyahu may have given his wealthy friends in return that could herald his downfall.

"In this framework, gifts were given from time to time by Mr. Milchan to the Netanyahu family, without any business interest".

For months, police have been investigating two cases.

VISA TROUBLE Mr. Netanyahu lobbied the secretary of state at the time, John Kerry, and the United States ambassador to Israel at the time, Daniel B. Shapiro, to help Mr. Milchan deal with a problem extending his visa, which had "far-reaching financial significance" to the producer.

Netanyahu's lawyers have said the presents were simply tokens of friendship and no quid pro quo was given.

Both Netanyahu and Mozes have said these were not serious discussions; rather, they each claim they were trying to expose the other's lack of trustworthiness.

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