Coalition Parties Say They Would Join a Netanyahu-led Government Despite Charges

Even after the attorney general announced his decision to indict the prime minister, right-wing parties said they would join his coalition

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Culture Minister Miri Regev in the Knesset, March 12, 2018.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Culture Minister Miri Regev in the Knesset, March 12, 2018.Credit: Emil Salman
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

All the coalition parties have said they would join a new coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, despite the attorney general’s decision to indict him in three corruption probes pending a hearing.

Kulanu, Hayamin Hehadash, Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas, United Torah Judaism and the far-right parties all said they would join a Netanyahu-led government even after Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit announced Thursday that Netanyahu would be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Cases 4000, 2000 and 1000, pending a hearing.

>> Read more: Netanyahu's response to his criminal indictment is, in essence, a plea for a putsch | Analysis ■ Facing charges, Netanyahu looks to world stage for help | Analysis

Four parties — Shas, United Torah Judaism, Yisrael Beiteinu and the Union of Right-wing Parties — said they would continue as Netanyahu’s coalition partners even if he were indicted. Kulanu, headed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, and Hayamin Hehadash headed by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, declined to say, as did Gesher, headed by Orli Levi-Abekasis.

Kahol Lavan, the Labor Party, Meretz, and Arab parties Hadash, Ta’al, United Arab List and Balad said they would not join any Netanyahu-led government.

“We won’t be joining the celebration and dancing in the prime minister’s blood,” Kulanu's Yifat Shasha-Biton said during a cultural event in Be’er Sheva. “Our position on the matter is clear and has been stated all along – there’s nothing to discuss until after the hearing.”

Last month, Kulanu chairman Kahlon said he would recommend Netanyahu form the coalition after the election. “I’m not a judge,” said the minister. “Kulanu is only here to serve the public, and in the past week we’ve more than proven that.”

As for joining a coalition led by former Israeli army chief of staff Benny Gantz, Shasha-Biton said: “I don’t know who Kahol Lavan are,” referring to Gantz’s joint slate with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, “What they’re stances are and what they seek to do for the public. When their people are interviewed, one says ‘day’ and the other says ‘night.’”

The day after the attorney general’s decision to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a survey published on Friday by Kan and Channel 13 signal a reversal in the blocs: 61 seats for the center-left, as opposed to the right’s 59.

This is the first time since the election was announced that poll results show the center-left bloc pulling ahead.

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