Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been summoned to a hearing by the Likud comptroller, and could face dismissal from his position as Likud chairman over charges of misusing party property and employees for his personal political benefit.
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Likud comptroller Shay Galili detailed the suspicions in a letter sent to Netanyahu earlier this week.
Netanyahu is suspected of violating party protocol by using the conference hall at Metzudat Ze'ev, the Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv, to promote his candidacy for party leadership. The speech he gave there, which was dedicated to promoting his candidacy, was uploaded to the Likud website – which is also deemed party property.
In addition, Netanyahu is suspected of acting against Likud regulations by utilizing the services of two Likud employees at the Tel Aviv facility to invite party members to two events – among them the Hannukah candle lighting ceremony he held with Interior Minister Gilad Erdan on Wednesday - aimed at furthering his candidacy.
According to Galili, these actions are against both Likud regulations and Israel's election laws, and could lead to far-reaching measures - among them the dismissal of Netanyahu from the head of the party, pending a hearing.
Netanyahu's only challenger in the race for Likud leadership is MK Dany Danon, who has staked out in recent years a position as a frequent critic of the prime minister, and is seen as a representative of the party's staunchly hawkish side.
A spokesman for Netanyahu's primaries campaign called the letter "strange, outlandish and devoid of touch with reality" and charged that it was penned "by politically-motivated agents... Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acts in full keeping of the law and of Likud regulations, and is committed to upholding the party's rules and regulations. That stands for both the primaries race and every other matter. The slanderous letter will be answered with a proper legal response."
Sources close to the Prime Minister said the Likud event was not connected in any way to Netanyahu's reelection efforts, and defended the use of the party employees as fully in accordance with party protocol.