Protest in Tel Aviv demanding PM Netanyahu's resignation

Protest in Tel Aviv demanding PM Netanyahu's resignation

Nearly half of Israel's electorate believe the country's police, who say they have gathered evidence against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called for him to be charged with bribery, a poll showed on Wednesday.

In the first case, dubbed by the police "case 1000", Netanyahu allegedly accepted bribery from an Israeli businessman and Hollywood tycoon Arnon Milchan and an Australian businessman, James Packer. His attorney general, Avihai Mandelblit, will now review the evidence and make the final decision on whether to press charges - a process that is expected to take months. Speaking from the Knesset podium Tuesday, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said, "The public will not decide, nor will the journalists or the politicians and their statements".

Netanyahu went on to attack the police, contending that "this time it is clear the investigators were biased, since the investigators claimed that they themselves were being investigating by me".

Two months after Trump upended decades of U.S. policy by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel - endearing himself to Netanyahu while alienating the Palestinian leadership - the U.S. president told a right-wing Israeli newspaper he was concerned about the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and questioned Israel's willingness to make peace.

The police recommendations dealt an embarrassing blow to the Israeli leader but they do not yet threaten his lengthy rule. In the other, Case 2000, Netanyahu is alleged to have conspired with Arnon Mozes, the owner of the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot, to advance legislation hobbling the free and pro-Netanyahu tabloid Israel Hayom bankrolled by American billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Clearly the police disagree; they have concluded that there is sufficient evidence to indict for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, a bitter rival of Netanyahu, called on him to suspend himself and for the coalition to appoint a replacement on Wednesday morning.

More news: Remembering Westerville Police Officer Anthony Morelli

Netanyahu has also denied acting improperly on behalf of Milchan and said the Hollywood mogul is a friend.

According to The Associated Press, reactions to the allegations against Mr. Netanyahu have largely fallen along partisan lines, with almost all of the prime minister's cabinet ministers having issued statements of support, and his coalition partners having all signaled they will stick by him, for now.

A police report outlining the allegations said Mr. Netanyahu accepted cigars, champagne and jewelry in exchange for helping Mr. Milchan with US visa matters, and for trying to legislate a generous tax break for him and promote his interests in Israel.

"I can reassure you that the coalition is stable", Netanyahu said at an event in Tel Aviv. The law did not pass, as the government folded and went to elections in 2015.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his allies also tried to discredit the police investigation and cast it as a political witch hunt. And in an interview Sunday, Trump said both Israel and Palestine were hindering efforts to broker a peace deal.

Three years prior, he was found to have spent $127,000 in public funds on a sleeping cabin on a flight to London.

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