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Netanyahu Says Government Stable Despite Bribery Scandal

  • Robert Berger

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the Muni World 2018 conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, Feb. 14, 2018.

Israel's longtime leader is defiant in the face of a deepening corruption scandal that has sparked calls for his resignation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his coalition government is stable, a day after police recommended his indictment in two corruption cases.

He described the allegations as "biased, extreme, and full of holes like Swiss cheese" and vowed to remain in office.

Police accuse Netanyahu of bribery and breach of trust in two corruption cases and say there is sufficient evidence to indict him. Police investigators allege Netanyahu accepted nearly $300,000 in gifts from two billionaires, including fine Cuban cigars, champagne and jewelry. He also allegedly bargained with an Israeli newspaper publisher for more positive news coverage. Police say that in exchange, he promised to advance the interests of his benefactors.

Israeli opposition leaders are demanding Netanyahu's resignation, saying he is corrupt and unfit to lead the nation.

"This is a very sad day for the Israeli people. It's not a pleasant day when the police recommend such recommendations against the prime minister of Israel," said Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union party.

But Netanyahu is in no immediate danger of being toppled from power, says Israeli analyst Avraham Diskin.

"From a political point of view, all the members of the present coalition support Netanyahu; and because of that, for the time being, as far as changes in the political arena, I don't see that yet," said Diskin.

From a legal point of view, Netanyahu is not required to resign. The final decision on an indictment rests with the attorney general, and that could take up to a year. Until then, Netanyahu is poised to live up to his image as a political survivor.

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