Leaders of the Blue and White Party have called on Benjamin Netanyahu to resign following the Attorney General’s announcement to indict him for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Benny Gantz said: “Netanyahu, I say to you this evening, come to your senses and display national responsibility and resign. If and when your innocence is proven, you will be able to return to the public arena with your head held high. I expect that you will conduct your battle as a private individual and I wish you success.”
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said, despite the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Cannot continue in his position … a prime minister is a symbol and a symbol must not be tarnished. It is unthinkable that any head of state, any president, who meets with him will know that he is not talking to the prime minister of Israel but rather to someone accused of severe bribery charges whose time is limited. This does not evoke respect for us in the world.”
Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg said that Netanyahu must announce that he will not run in the elections, resign, and attend to his trial. She said: “This is a case of criminal behaviour and criminal codes and members of the Netanyahu family are threatening to drown the entire country.”
Netanyahu’s coalition partners expressed their support. Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett of the New Right party said that the Prime Minister has a presumption of innocence, and that: “We respect the attorney general’s decision, but as the attorney general said in his own words that he will come to the hearing with ‘an open heart and a willing soul,’ so will we wait for the end of the hearing.”
Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman said : “Filing an indictment subject to a hearing is not a final judgment. Therefore, as far as we are concerned, the prime minister is entitled to run in the Knesset elections like any other candidate.”
The legal process could take up to two years. Netanyahu is entitled to a hearing that will take place in a few months. After that the Attorney General will issue a final decision and then a criminal trial would begin. If Netanyahu is found guilty he would likely be forced to resign. But some party leaders have suggested they would not serve in a Government with him if his case proceeds to a trial.
BICOM’s latest briefing sets out the detail of the legal and political process following the Attorney General’s decision.