Israel’s attorney general says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not required to leave office following his indictment on corruption charges.
By Associated Press
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said in a statement Monday that Benjamin Netanyahu can remain interim prime minister, just days after serving him with charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery.
The attorney general did not weigh in on whether Netanyahu could keep his other ministerial positions while under indictment.
Netanyahu, Israel’s longest serving prime minister, has dismissed the charges as an “attempted coup” and refused to resign. He says he will fight the charges from the prime minister’s office.
Over the weekend, Netanyahu’s main challenger within the Likud party Gideon Sa’ar told Channel 12, “There isn’t a single person who thinks that after a third or fourth or fifth or sixth election, Netanyahu will succeed in forming a government.”
Sa’ar demanded a snap primary to elect a party leader, which appears slated to beheld within six weeks.
Netanyahu’s supporters immediately attacked Saar, saying he has “shown zero loyalty and maximum subversiveness.”
Netanyahu made no mention of his indictment during Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, talking about Iran, threats from Gaza and domestic affairs.
Later on Sunday, he traveled to Israel’s northern frontier to tour the Golan Heights with military officials. Netanyahu issued fresh warnings to archenemy Iran against entrenchment in neighboring Syria.
“We will also act to thwart Iran’s attempts to turn Iraq and Yemen into bases for launching rockets and missiles against the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said.
The attorney general’s decision to indict Netanyahu on fraud, breach of trust and bribery charges Thursday shook up Israel’s political system, which is in paralysis after inconclusive elections in April and September. It is the first time a sitting prime minister has been charged with a crime.
With neither Netanyahu nor his main rival, former military chief Benny Gantz, able to secure a parliamentary majority, the country seems to be barreling toward its third election in under 12 months.