Netanyahu rules out stepping down if indicted in corruption charges

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Netanyahu rules out stepping down if indicted in corruption charges:Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday stated that he would not resign if indicted on corruption charges, as police continue to investigate several cases involving him ahead of April polls.

Netanyahu said he would not step down “in the event of being summoned for a hearing by the prosecutor general before the elections”, a necessary step ahead of being formally charged.

The veteran premier was speaking in a press conference streamed online from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, where he is on an official visit

Netanyahu would not be required to resign if charged in any of the three cases of alleged corruption, but he would likely face intense political pressure to do so.

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“I have no intention of resigning, firstly because there will be nothing (to come from the probes), secondly because the law does not oblige me to do so,” Netanyahu said in Rio.

“That would be a serious breach of Israeli democracy,” he added.

The attorney general’s decision on indictments is expected in the coming months and analysts say Netanyahu’s decision to call early elections was a deft manoeuvre to fight any charges with a fresh mandate.

The premier denies all charges and polls show his Likud party is likely to win the April 9 polls.

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In their most recent move, police recommended Netanyahu be indicted over regulatory benefits allegedly granted to telecoms firm Bezeq in exchange for positive coverage from a related media company.

According to Israel media reports, there is enough evidence on the case to charge him with corruption.

In February, investigators recommended he be indicted in two other cases.

In one, allegations against Netanyahu include seeking a secret deal with the publisher of Israel’s top-selling newspaper Yediot Aharonot to ensure positive coverage in return for pushing forward a law that would have limited the circulation of a rival publication.

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Another probe involves suspicions the premier and his family received luxury gifts from wealthy individuals in exchange for financial or personal favours.

(AFP)

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