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World Israel’s Netanyahu faces calls to quit but is defiant in crisis

15:10  23 november  2019
15:10  23 november  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced calls to resign over a corruption scandal on Friday, as senior government colleagues publicly declared But Israel ' s election schedule could work against Netanyahu , Israel ' s longest serving prime minister after 10 successive years in power plus three

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced calls to resign Friday over a corruption scandal, as senior government colleagues publicly declared support after some signs of cracks in party loyalty. Netanyahu said he would not step down after he was indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced calls to resign Friday over a corruption scandal, as senior government colleagues publicly declared support after some signs of cracks in party loyalty.

Netanyahu said he would not step down after he was indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust by Israel’s attorney general Thursday night.

The 70-year-old conservative Likud party leader denies all wrongdoing and denounced the indictment — the first against a sitting Israeli prime minister — as an “attempted coup.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacts during a meeting of the right-wing bloc at the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in Jerusalem on November 20, 2019. (Photo by GALI TIBBON / AFP) (Photo by GALI TIBBON/AFP via Getty Images) © Getty Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacts during a meeting of the right-wing bloc at the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in Jerusalem on November 20, 2019. (Photo by GALI TIBBON / AFP) (Photo by GALI TIBBON/AFP via Getty Images)

But his ability to lead a country mired in political crisis, after two inconclusive elections this year that failed to produce a government, is being questioned.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced calls to resign Friday over a corruption scandal, as senior government colleagues publicly declared support after some signs of cracks in party loyalty. Netanyahu said he would not step down after he was indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced calls to resign Friday over a corruption scandal, as senior government colleagues publicly declared support after some signs of cracks in party loyalty. Netanyahu said he would not step down after he was indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and

The centrist Blue and White party headed by Netanyahu’s main rival, Benny Gantz, issued a statement calling on Netanyahu to “immediately resign from all ministerial positions in the government.” 

The party — which has 33 of parliament’s 120 seats to Likud’s 32 — said its lawyers had formally approached the prime minister and attorney general’s offices saying it was “imperative” that Netanyahu step down.

A poll aired by Israel’s Channel 13 TV found that 56 percent of Israelis believe Netanyahu cannot continue to govern after being indicted. A total of 35 percent said he can, and 9 percent were undecided.

Under Israeli law, he is under no obligation to step down as prime minister. But with Israel heading toward a probable third election in less than a year, Netanyahu could soon find himself in the difficult position of trying to win an election while preparing to be prosecuted.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced calls to resign Friday over a corruption scandal, as senior government colleagues publicly declared support after some signs of cracks in party loyalty. Netanyahu said he would not step down after he was indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced calls to resign Friday over a corruption scandal, as senior government colleagues publicly declared support after some signs of cracks in party loyalty. Netanyahu said he would not step down after he was indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and

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The support of his Likud party colleagues is likely to be crucial to his chances of staying in power.

Two Likud lawmakers publicly broached holding a party leadership contest Thursday, but even such mild expressions of disloyalty upset loyalists.

Senior ministers issued public statements declaring their support, and Justice Minister Amir Ohana said he was proud of his fellow Likud parliamentarians for standing by Netanyahu, adding pointedly: “Except for two of them.”

Netanyahu’s ultranationalist coalition partner Bezalel Smotrich, the transport minister, also offered sympathy for Netanyahu over the charges against him, announced by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday.

Smotrich said in a tweet that planned street protests in support of the prime minister were aimed at preventing “a predatory, violent and dangerous judicial dictatorship.”

After a national televised address Thursday night, Netanyahu kept a low profile Friday, posting a tweet with heart and Israeli flag emoji saying: “Thank you for your support and love. Shabbat Shalom.”

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