After Support Rally, Party Members Convinced Netanyahu Will Not Step Down if Indicted

Some ministers say it has to be breach of trust or bribery for them to demand Netanyahu's exist as Likud party ramps up its defense of the prime minister

Many cabinet members and legislators say that if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is indicted on corruption charges he will have to resign, but anything short of that means they will not demand his resignation and he will remain the Likud party’s unchallenged leader.
Some ministers say that any indictment justifies his resignation, while others say it depends on the charges. Some ministers say that if Netanyahu is charged with breach of trust he must resign, others cite bribery.
The sources say it could take up to a year for any indictment to be filed, not very long before March 2019, by when the next Knesset election is due.
All the MKs and ministers Haaretz spoke with declined to be quoted by name so as not to be seen as challenging the prime minister.
As police investigations of his alleged criminal corruption mounted this week, Netanyahu told a Tel Aviv rally of some 3,000 supporters Wednesday night that the left and media were waging an “obsessive witch hunt” aimed at ousting him.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu criticized former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, “the old man with the new beard,” for saying “the diplomatic tsunami is on its way.” Netanyahu called Barak’s warnings nonsense.
On Thursday, Likud kept the derision of Barak rolling. “It’s funny that Ehud Barak, who was investigated under caution about NGOs that raised millions for him illegally, is talking about corruption,” Likud said on its Facebook page.

The post also reminded readers that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s bureau chief had recorded Olmert saying that Barak “took bribes worth millions and tens of millions. There is no weapons deal Israel does ... everyone is talking about it.” Barak’s office called such claims unfounded when they surfaced in 2014.
The Likud Facebook post also urges the authorities to look into “how Barak, as defense minister, advanced the acquisition of planes from Lockheed Martin.”
According to the post, “Barak had better continue his travels among luxury hotels around the world and not hurl false accusations at Netanyahu, who has always acted according to the law for Israel’s well-being and security.”
Barak tweeted in response: “They should stop backing corruption. It’s him and his lackeys. All their accusations have been investigated and found to be groundless. It’s sad. The prime minister as a clown.”
On Wednesday, MK Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) came to the rally to support Netanyahu. The party’s chairman, Naftali Bennett, is abroad, but sources say he is following events closely.
Bennett’s party is preparing for the possibility that Netanyahu will seek a snap election before Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit decides on whether to indict him.
The head of the center-right Kulanu party, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, returned from a trip abroad this week. He reportedly has said that the government is working well and he is advancing his goals. In the current situation he thus would not take steps to undermine the governing coalition, he was quoted as saying.

Chaim Levinson

Haaretz Correspondent

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After Support Rally, Party Members Convinced Netanyahu Will Not Step Down if Indicted

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives.

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