Netanyahu ex-ally nominates himself to be next Israel Prime Minister

Modesto Morganelli
Aprile 5, 2021

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was back in court for his corruption trial on Monday as the country's political parties were set to weigh in on whether he should form the next government after a closely divided election or step down to focus on his legal woes. With a majority of lawmakers opposed to giving Netanyahu another term, Rivlin could give the task to a different candidate, possibly as soon as Monday night.

In another of the three cases against him, Mr Netanyahu is accused of receiving gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from wealthy friends, including Hollywood film producer Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer.

The consultations "make it more hard for the president to give the mandate to Netanyahu", said Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute. News, who described how he was ordered by the site's owner to censor and shape coverage of Netanyahu and his family according to their requests.

"It was clear that we were a website that did what the prime minister's office asked us", Yeshua told the court.

Outside the courtroom, dozens of supporters and opponents of the prime minister gathered to protest on opposite sides of the building amid heavy police presence, highlighting Israel's deep divisions.

Judges have said Netanyahu can leave the courtroom after the opening arguments, when the witness testimony begins.

Ahead of his first meeting, with Netanyahu's envoys from Likud, Rivlin said he would seek to nominate a candidate who has "the best chance of forming a government that will have the confidence of the new Knesset".

"The case before the honorable court today is a significant and serious case in the field of government corruption", Ben-Ari said.

The president must designate a candidate to try to form a government by Wednesday, but with no clear frontrunner and two other candidates besides Netanyahu putting themselves forward to be prime minister, Rivlin said he "can't now see a way to form a coalition.after four election campaigns, democracy has exhausted itself".

Israel's March 23 election was its fourth inconclusive vote in less than two years, prolonging the worst political crisis in the nation's history. Naftali Bennett, a former Netanyahu ally-turned-rival, was known as "the naughty religious one", and former Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who is of North African descent, was called "smiley" and "the Arab".

"How much can you lie?"

CASE 1000: Netanyahu has been charged with fraud and breach of trust over allegations that he and his wife wrongfully received nearly 700,000 shekels ($210,000) worth of gifts from Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood producer and an Israeli citizen, and Australian billionaire businessman James Packer. In the second case, Netanyahu is accused of trying to orchestrate positive coverage in a major Israeli paper in exchange for curbing distribution of a free pro-Netanyahu tabloid. "The currency could distort a public servant's judgment".

Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing, dismissing the charges against him as part of a media and law enforcement "witch hunt" to unseat him. His trial began last year and could last for another two years.

Netanyahu is desperate to stay in power, hoping to use his office as a bully pulpit to lash out against prosecutors and potentially forming a government that could grant him immunity.

Neither Netanyahu's allies nor his foes secured a governing majority.

Mr Gantz's decision to join a short-lived coalition under Mr Netanyahu caused his political support to collapse.

Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party finished first, winning 30 seats in the 120-member parliament, but his ability to form a stable governing coalition is precarious, a reality that has plagued him for several years.

Israeli law does not require prime ministers to resign while under indictment, and Netanyahu has refused to do so.

That fact now spells a political problem for Mr Netanyahu, who will likely need Mr Bennett's support in order to form a government.

Yes. The corruption case was a polarising issue in recent elections.

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