Israeli Political Opposition Slams Netanyahu: 'He Can't Remain PM if Indicted'

Israeli politicians such as Yair Lapid, Avi Gabbay, Ehud Barak and Zehava Galon all decry Netanyahu after police confirm the prime minister is suspected of bribery, fraud and breach of trust

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, July 28, 2017.
Olivier Fitoussi

Israeli opposition leaders slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday after police confirmed he was suspected of bribery and turned his former aide into a state's witness, claiming he must step down if indicted.

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Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid called on Netanyahu to ask police to lift the gag orders on several ongoing investigations, telling Channel 2 news that "he should face the State of Israel and detail his role in these affairs." Lapid said politicians on the right were attempting to portay the affair as a political struggle, "as if the left were chasing the prime minister. This is not a political struggle, all those involved - the police chief, the state prosecutor, the attorney general - are all Netanyahu appointments." Lapid added that if Netanyahu is indicted, he will not be able to continue serving as prime minister.

Labor Party chair Avi Gabbay wrote in a Facebook post that Israelis are fed up with a prime minister who is surrounded by state's witnesses, adding that he is optimistic that Israel is at the peak of the crisis and facing the beginning of a new era after a decade of decay.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak echoed calls for Netanyahu to resign if indicted, referring to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked's statement that Netanyahu won't have to resign if charged. "The justice minister is wrong, and the prime minister of Israel won't be able to serve after police have decided to indict him," he said, adding that Netanyahu's entire circle has crossed into bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Meretz chair Zahava Galon also slammed Shaked's statements, saying that she is not interested in the transparent political considerations behind Shaked's remarks, adding that "we must not get used to this corruption."

Coalition chair David Bitan told Channel 2 news that the state's deal with Ari Harow does not strengthen the case against Netanyahu, adding that "the prime minister says he can deal with this and I believe him" and that this will not bring elections. Biton added that if the police had evidence, they wouldn't need to strengthen it, saying "look at the facts and not just what the police claim. There's a feeling that they must win the investigation, and this creates a certain problem when it comes to the prime minister." When asked why Likud ministers were not defending their boss in the television studios, Bitan, promised that "they will pay come primaries."