On November 20, Benjamin Netanyahu’s rival for the premiership, Benny Gantz, said he had been unable to form a governing coalition with a majority in parliament. He had been given the opportunity to try after Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier failed to do so.
On November 21, President Reuven Rivlin asked lawmakers to agree on a candidate for prime minister within 21 days and avoid an unprecedented third election in a year.
After the charges were announced, Benny Gantz tweeted his support for the attorney general and law enforcement agencies, and wrote it was “a very sad day” for Israel.
In February, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said that he intended to indict Benjamin Netanyahu in connection with three cases – known as Case 1,000, Case 2,000 and Case 4,000 – pending final hearings that eventually took place in October.
It is unclear what this means for the prime minister’s future.
Benjamin Netanyahu is presumed innocent unless proven otherwise, and there is currently no legal barrier to him staying in office as prime minister.
It could take many months before the cases are brought before a district court. And even if convicted, Benjamin Netanyahu would not be required to step down until the appeals process was exhausted – something that could take years.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has been questioned as part of an investigation into corruption allegations.
Ahead of police arrival at his residence, Benjamin Netanyahu again denied any wrongdoing.
Benjamin Netanyahu told the media and political rivals to “hold off partying”, adding: “Nothing will happen, because there is nothing.”
Israeli media have reported allegations that the prime minister has received significant gifts or “favors” from businessmen.
Investigators questioned Benjamin Netanyahu at his central Jerusalem residence for about three hours, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Benjamin Netanyahu told his Likud party legislators on January 2: “We hear all the media reports. We see and hear the festive spirit and atmosphere in television studios and in the corridors of the opposition.
“I want to tell them to wait for the celebrations. Do not rush. I told you and I repeat: There will be nothing because there is nothing. You will continue to inflate hot air balloons and we will continue to lead the state of Israel.”
Image source Wikimedia
However, Ynet quoted the leader of the Zionist Union, Isaac Herzog, as saying: “This isn’t a happy day. This is a hard day for the state of Israel. We are not gloating.”
Opponents of Benjamin Netanyahu have called for an investigation into his affairs following a series of scandals in recent months – none of which have resulted in charges.
Last month, an investigation was opened into the purchase of new submarines from Germany, after it was claimed that Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyer represented the company during negotiations.
Earlier this year, convicted French fraudster Arnaud Mimran claimed he had donated hundreds of thousands of euros to Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2009 election campaign – something the prime minister denies.
Benjamin Netanyahu has also been accused of wasting public money, including $127,000 on a customized private bedroom on a single flight to the UK.
Similar allegations have followed the Israeli prime minister since his original term in office two decades ago.
In 2000, Israeli police recommended that criminal charges be brought against Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, after an eight-month investigation into whether he had kept official gifts that should have been handed over to the state after he left office.
At the same time, Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu were also accused of charging the government for the services of a contractor who did private work for them.
All those charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence.