A day after police recommended prosecuting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on corruption charges, opposition MKs barraged him with demands to resign, in the wake of what they expect to be an indictment. In addition, they also targeted his coalition partners, especially Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon of Kulanu for his refusal to resign from the government, thus breaking up Netanyahu’s coalition.
“I think Kahlon, [Education Minister and Jewish Home head Naftali] Bennett and others should break up this government,” Zionist Camp head Avi Gabay told Yediot Acharonot Wednesday. “From a moral point of view, that is the minimum required. Why don’t they do this? I guess they are comfortable in their ministerial seats. They have good, interesting jobs. You should ask them why they aren’t quitting the government,” he told his interviewers.
Speaking earlier Tuesday, Kahlon said that there was no reason to resign at this point. “The law states that the State Attorney makes the decision on whether or not to file charges. Until then I will continue to guide the Israeli economy for the benefit of all Israelis. I call on everyone, both right and left, not to attack the police or the justice system. We must let the system work without pressure from either side, and to operate in an orderly, professional and balanced manner,” Kahlon said in a statement.
Bennett, meanwhile, is expected to speak on the matter sometime Wednesday. Jewish Home did not comment on the police recommendations Tuesday, but he is expected to back the prime minister in his comments, and is likely to declare that he will remain in the government.
By failing to resign, Gabay told Yediot Acharonot, Netanyahu’s coalition partners were “aiding and abetting the attacks by Netanyahu on the rule of law. They support Netanyahu’s receiving gifts and providing favors as prime minister, and they are supporting Netanyahu’s criticisms of the legal system and police, and this they are not allowed to do.”
The fact that Netanyahu in his speech Tuesday night questioned the police investigation, implying that it had been tailored to indict him even before it had begun last year, was enough to make him “unfit for the prime minister’s post,” said Gabay. “Anyone who attacks the institutions he is supposed to be in charge of cannot be prime minister. Over the past year we have gotten used to his attacks on Police Chief Roni Alsheich, but who appointed Alsheich? It was Netanyahu himself who did so.”
The chief allegations against the prime minister are in two cases that have been under investigation for nearly a year: Case 1000, in which Netanyahu was accused of accepting extravagant gifts from millionaire Arnon Milchin, mostly cigars and champagne; and Case 2000, in which the prime minister allegedly leaned on the publishers of Yisrael Hayom to limit distribution of their free newspaper in order to benefit from better coverage in rival newspaper Yediot Acharonot. Police also recommended that Milchin and Mozes be indicted for their roles in the cases. There is enough evidence against all three to pursue charges, police said in recommendations to prosecutors.