Gantz demands Netanyahu step down following indictment bombshell

Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief challenger in upcoming elections is calling on the Israeli prime minister to resign to fight corruption allegations.

By Associated Press

Appearing on nationwide TV, Benny Gantz said Thursday that being prime minister cannot be a “part-time job” and said Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu should conduct his legal battle as a private citizen.

He also called on Netanyahu to stop attacking state institutions, such as police and prosecutors, who have investigated him.

“The state of Israel deserves better than this,” he said.

Gantz, a former military chief, leads a party that has positioned itself as centrist and is in a close race with Netanyahu’s Likud Party. He said his “Blue and White” party would not sit in a coalition with Netanyahu after the election.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu rejected the latest corruption allegations against him as a politically motivated attack meant to defeat him in April elections.

He called the timing of the announcement, six weeks ahead of elections, “outrageous” and accused his leftist opponents of carrying out an “unprecedented witch hunt.”

“The pressure of the left worked,” he said, saying the attorney general’s recommendations threatened the country’s democracy.

He called the accusations lies and a “blood libel” and said he would debunk all charges against him.

Earlier on Thursday, Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said in a Justice Ministry statement, he plans to charge Netanyahu with bribery for promoting regulatory changes worth hundreds of millions of dollars to telecom giant Bezeq in return for positive press coverage in Bezeq’s popular subsidiary news site Walla.

He will also charge Netanyahu with fraud and breach of trust in two other cases. The first involves accepting gifts from billionaire friends and the second revolves around alleged offers of advantageous legislation for a major newspaper in return for favorable coverage.

Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.