Likud Officials Concede Privately: PM Must Resign If Indicted

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (Ohad Zweigenberg/Pool)

While some members of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition have said that he will not resign even if indicted, some Likud officials were quoted by Ynet on Sunday as saying privately that an indictment would end his administration.

“If an indictment is filed against Netanyahu, we won’t allow him to stay,” one Likud official said. “There will be no scenario in which he is leading the country and the Likud with an indictment hanging over his head. He could bring down the Likud as well as himself.”

Another party official cited the case of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who resigned even before an indictment on charges of corruption was filed against him.

“There’s great embarrassment. The most complicated situation Netanyahu is facing is that he is left with hardly any close associates, except for (wife) Sara and (son) Yair,” one party official said. “However, his status in the Likud party is strong and most of the registered voters still support him.”

Last week, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told reporters that the law does not require a prime minister to resign in the event of being indicted, only if he is convicted of a crime; and she said that the coalition will probably weather the crisis. On Sunday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz came to Netanyahu’s defense, the former saying that “you don’t oust a prime minister because of headlines,” a reference to the ongoing media-fed uproar over allegations against him.

MK Avi Dichter was the one Likud official to publicly entertain Netanyahu’s resignation, saying that, “a prime minister or defense minister who is indicted — the high road says they must resign their post, unless there’s a particular reason not to. I hope things don’t come to this.”