Israel’s police service formally recommended Tuesday that the country’s attorney general indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in two cases of alleged corruption.
But the prime minister is fighting back, declaring that the accusations are the result of a political campaign to remove him from power.
“I am sure that the truth will come to light and that in the next elections I will once again win your loyalty, with the help of God,” he said in a speech.
The left-wing Israeli daily Ha’aretz explains: “The two cases are the so-called Case 1000 – in which Netanyahu is suspected of accepting lavish gifts from wealthy benefactors in return for advancing their interests – and Case 2000, which alleges that Netanyahu tried to strike a deal that would have provided him with positive coverage in Israel’s second largest newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, in exchange for hurting its free rival, Israel Hayom.”
Israel Hayom is backed by conservative American billionaire Sheldon Adelson and is considered pro-Netanyahu.
Allegations of corruption have long hounded Israeli prime ministers, both right and left. The late Yitzchak Rabin was forced to resign in 1977 over a bank account he and his wife illegally maintained in the U.S. And former prime minister Ehud Olmert was released from prison last year after being convicted of corruption. Others, like the late prime minister Ariel Sharon, was accused of breaking Israel’s strict campaign finance laws, but was never indicted.
Netanyahu has claimed for months that he is innocent of any wrongdoing, and his supporters believe that he is the target of a “deep state” campaign by the left-leaning Israeli establishment, which can no longer win elections thanks to the collapse of public faith in talks with the Palestinians and the viability of the left’s “land-for-peace” formula.