Likud stronger after police recommendations

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The Israeli Police's recommendation to prosecute Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in two cases of bribery and fraud includes the name of Indian industrialist Ratan Tata, Ynetnews reported on Wednesday.

An ashen-faced Netanyahu said in a televised address: "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". "We will continue to work together with you for the people of Israel until the end of our term", he said to a gathering of local government officials in Tel Aviv.

During similar circumstances a decade ago, Netanyahu, as opposition leader, urged then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign during a police investigation, saying a leader "sunk up to his neck in interrogations" could not govern properly.

Bennett, a key Netanyahu ally, spoke for the first time since police announced they are recommending the prime minister be indicted for corruption.

More importantly, the coalition parties that keep Mr Netanyahu afloat said they would await the ruling of Attorney-General Avihai Mandelblit, who could take months to decide whether to file charges.

"After I read the recommendations report, I can say it is biased, extreme, full of holes like Swiss cheese and doesn't hold water".

One of the cases against Netanyahu, known as Case 1000, alleged the "committing of crimes of bribery, fraud and breach of trust" by the prime minister.

In the second case, which police call Case 2000, Mr Netanyahu allegedly tried to collude with the publisher of a leading newspaper.

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Netanyahu says his government remains stable despite the police recommending that he be indicted. According to recordings obtained by the police, Mr Netanyahu offered to help decrease the circulation of the paper's main competitor if the publisher promised more favourable news coverage in return.

Netanyahu's lawyers said the presents were simply tokens of friendship. Though he is not legally compelled to resign, several opposition figures called on Mr Netanyahu to do so to avoid corrupting the office further.

A final decision on whether Mr Netanyahu should face charges will come down to the attorney general's office.

Avraham Diskin, a political science professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said none of Netanyahu's coalition partners had any incentive to rock the boat.

Among the witnesses in the case against Netanyahu is his arch-rival Lapid, and that poll showed that 35 percent believed him when he said that Netanyahu had been involved in corrupt practices; 30 percent believed Netanyahu's denial of Lapid's charges; and 35 percent said they weren't sure.

Police named Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood producer and Israeli citizen, and Australian businessman James Packer, as having given gifts that included champagne, cigars and jewellery to Netanyahu and his family.

Now get this: on the question of whether elements in law enforcement and the political establishment are trying to launch a coup with the Netanyahu investigations-the most stirring and, possibly, outrageous argument in Bibi's rebuttal speech Tuesday night-a whopping 34% agreed.

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