Israel police say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must face corruption probe

Israel police say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must face corruption probe

Israeli police on Tuesday recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for bribery, opening the way for what could be the biggest challenge yet to the right-wing leader's political survival.

Netanyahu can remain in office as the process Attorney General makes a decision to indict, which will likely take months.

He was chosen the Prime Minister of Israel in 2009.

Benjamin Netanyahu gave a defiant rebuttal of the allegations in a statement broadcast on Israeli television on Tuesday evening.

The investigations have gone on for more than a year.

Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin (Likud) said that the police recommendations are part of "a contemptible move to stage a government coup against the will of the voter".

Various Israeli media reported that police had informed Netanyahu's lawyers that they were recommending his indictment in both corruption cases involving him that they have been investigating.

"We will continue to work with you for the good of Israel's citizens until the end of the term", he said.

They have also been probing allegations Netanyahu sought a secret deal for favorable coverage with the publisher of top-selling newspaper Yediot Aharonot.

"You're allowed to receive presents from friends".

Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay said 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.

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

Netanyahu and Mozes, police said, discussed ways of slowing the growth of a rival daily newspaper, Israel Hayom, "through legislation and other means".

The proposal was eventually blocked by the finance ministry.

Former Police Affairs Reporter at The Jerusalem Post Ben Hartman told Business Insider police accusations may not lead to a surefire outcome.

A decision could take months and Netanyahu's government appeared stable for the time being.

The police statement said their investigation found sufficient evidence to indict Netanyahu in the first case, known as File 1000, for accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu's coalition partners have put little pressure on him to step down, although that could change as details of the allegations continue to emerge.

Israeli media were divided over Netanyahu's prospects.

What has the reaction been?

"A prime minister that busies himself with attacking his police and law enforcement is simply attacking himself, attacking the country".

Israel's centre-left opposition alliance, the Zionist Union, called on Netanyahu to resign.

"The state of Israel needs a leader whose hands are clean and who is exclusively devoted to the affairs of the country", the group's Eyal Ben-Reuven told The Times of Israel.

"If it's bribery ("shochad") that's more serious than breach of trust", Hartman said.

Despite police recommendations, Netanyahu does not need to resign from his position.

Israel is next scheduled to go to the polls in late 2019. His dismissive accusations of "fake news" and his denunciations of the police have echoed U.S. President Donald Trump's attacks on the media, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

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