Israeli Prime Minister and Trump Ally Netanyahu Could Be Ousted in Stunning Corruption Scandal
Israeli investigators recommended that the country's attorney general indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges Tuesday. Police have investigated several allegations against the prime minister, including accusations that he and his wife accepted bribes for political favors and that he planned to punish a newspaper's competitor in exchange for more positive coverage.
Netanyahu, who is among President Donald Trump's closest foreign allies, has denied the allegations.
"I will continue to lead the state of Israel responsibly and loyally as long as you, the citizens of Israel, choose me to lead you,” Netanyahu told television audiences on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. “I am sure that the truth will come to light. And I am sure that also in the next election that will take place on time I will win your trust again, with God’s help.”
The potential charges against Netanyahu include receiving $300,000 in gifts from two billionaires in exchange for tax breaks and political favors. Netanyahu also stands accused of asking publisher Arnon Mozes for better coverage in his newspaper, offering to restrict distribution of a competitors' publication. Police say they have this request on tape, according to the AP.
If the prime minister is indicted and ousted from office, it could have far-reaching consequences for global affairs. Netanyahu has long allied himself with the U.S. Republican Party, sharing its deep distrust of Iran and welcoming its full-throated defenses of Israeli policy.
Netanyahu famously sparred with President Barack Obama, particularly over the Iran deal, which Netanyahu opposed. He celebrated Trump's criticisms of the deal.
The prime minister has praised Trump, often serving as a bulwark against charges of anti-Semitism against a president who has been cheered by neo-Nazis. At their first news conference together, Netanyahu said of Trump, "There is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state."
In exchange for Netanyahu's praise, Trump has largely looked the other way as Israel expands settlements into Palestinian territory, which the United Nations condemns.