Centrist leader says Netanyahu should resign


Israeli police on Tuesday recommended that Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted in a pair of corruption cases, media reported, in an embarrassing blow to the embattled prime minister that is likely to fuel calls for him to step down. "We will continue to work with you for the good of Israel's citizens until the end of the term", Netanyahu said at a conference in Tel Aviv.

In the Channel 10 poll, 34% said they believe Netanyahu's claim that the police are part of a conspiracy to topple him, and 53% said they do not believe the claim.

An additional poll conducted by the Shiluv institute and published by Kan 11 found that 51% of respondents believe the police version of events, while 22% believe the Prime Minister.

Netanyahu on Wednesday again dismissed the police recommendations, calling the allegations "biased, extreme, full of holes like Swiss cheese".

In a statement, police said there was sufficient evidence to indict Netanyahu in the first case, known as File 1000, for accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust.

In Case 2000, police say Netanyahu discussed "bartering" with Arnon "Noni" Mozes, the owner of one of Israel's leading newspapers, Yedioth Ahronoth, which is regularly critical of the Prime Minister.

Netanyahu said his government remains stable despite the police's recommendations, and that he is confident as always that "the truth will come to light and nothing will come of this".

He accused police of being on a witch hunt and vowed to remain in office.

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 promoted him through government ranks.

"Over the years, I have been the subject of at least 15 enquiries and investigations", Netanyahu said in the televised address, standing before four Israeli flags and appearing tense. Though he is not legally compelled to resign, several opposition figures called on Mr Netanyahu to do so to avoid corrupting the office further.

Among the witnesses in the case against Netanyahu is his arch-rival Lapid, and that poll showed that 35 percent believed him when he said that Netanyahu had been involved in corrupt practices; 30 percent believed Netanyahu's denial of Lapid's charges; and 35 percent said they weren't sure.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the far-right Jewish Home party, said: "I have chose to wait until the decision of the attorney general ..."

When asked whether the prime minister should temporarily step down, almost half (49 percent) of the 495 respondents said Netanyahu should stay in office, while 43 percent said he should leave.

Netanyahu's coalition controls 66 out of 120 seats in total.

The head of a centrist Israeli party called on Benjamin Netanyahu to resign and defended his decision to cooperate with police in their corruption investigation of the prime minister.