Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday his coalition government is “stable,” and dismissed a police recommendation he be indicted for corruption in two separate cases.
“Neither me nor anyone else has plans for elections,” Netanyahu said. “We’re going to continue to work together for the good of Israeli citizens until the end of the term.”
The recommendation of criminal charges Tuesday came after a months-long investigation into allegations that Netanyahu accepted expensive gifts from billionaires, including Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, and Australian media magnate James Packer.
Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit will make the final decision whether to indict Netanyahu.
The prime minister said Tuesday the police recommendation “will end with nothing.”
His lawyer, Amit Hadad, said in a radio interview the allegations were “inflated” and that Netanyahu did not receive any bribes.
Netanyahu’s longtime rival, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, called the alleged corruption “horrifying.”
Opposition leaders said Netanyahu should step down, while members of his Likud party voiced support for the prime minister.
Josef Olmert, an adjunct political science professor at the University of South Carolina and a Middle East scholar, said the allegations themselves are not very serious, but the fact that they exist represent a significant political blow to Netanyahu.
“It is not causing an immediate political threat to him because his coalition partners are all standing behind him, but obviously it might detract from his authority and credibility and leadership altogether, and it will open up for speculation that all kinds of decisions that he is taking or may take could be influenced by his immediate personal considerations regarding these allegations,” Olmert told VOA.
An indictment would not require Netanyahu to immediately step down, but it would certainly cripple his ability to govern in what is already a shaky coalition government of hardliners and liberals.
Robert Berger in Jerusalem and Victor Beattie in Washington DC contributed to this report.