PM Netanyahu under immense pressure amid corruption investigation

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under immense pressure amid growing accusations of corruption. Police have been investigating the Israeli leader for several months for crimes involving fraud, bribery and breach of trust. Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrong doing, calling the probe a “witch hunt” by political rivals and the media. That said, a new development in which the Prime Minister’s former Chief of Staff and confidant, Ari Harow, agreed to testify against Netanyahu after signing a state witness agreement, adding further dimensions to the investigations against the long-time Israeli leader in two separate cases against him. Prime Minister Netanyahu was questioned under caution by police over so-called Case 1,000 and Case 2,000. Case 1,000 involves Netanyahu and family members receiving gifts on a regular basis from two international businessmen, including what Israeli media described as “stocks of expensive cigars and champagne”; while Case 2,000 involves a deal Netanyahu allegedly discussed with the owner of one of Israel’s largest newspapers, Yedioth Ahronoth, for better coverage in return for curbs on competition from a free newspaper, Yisrael Hayom, owned by US casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a paper that has long promoted the Prime Minister. With Prime Minister Netanyahu vehemently rejecting any wrong doing, government ministers of his ruling Likud faction whom are displaying their growing concerns with regard to significant political loses, are stepping up rhetoric against the media and the opposition to picture the probe as a political maneuver. “The prime minister seems to be calm, I spoke to him yesterday and (he is) confident, as he kept on saying: There will be nothing because there was nothing. I trust the prime minister 100 percent. This media lynch — by parts of the media and by the opposition, who are doing everything possible to topple the right-wing (government), to topple Netanyahu — must be stopped. It won’t help them, a government should be replaced in elections, not by investigations or headlines,” Minister of Culture and Sports Miri Regev asserted ahead of the cabinet’s weekly meeting.
On the streets of Jerusalem, Israeli citizens voiced mixed feelings with regard to the new developments pertaining to Benjamin Netanyahu, with most of those asked voicing support for the Prime Minister. “I think Netanyahu is a great leader for Israel, I think he represents us very well abroad, I think all the stories that you hear about him, he’s not, I mean he’s not guilty so I trust him, I trust him with the security of the country and I’m happy about it,” said Daniel Silver, a resident of Jerusalem. Yanyena, who also voiced support for Netanyahu said, “I think that he’s the best that can happen today, especially in the days like today. I always voted for him from 1996, and I can’t imagine anybody who I see around who can do today a better job than he does.” On the other hand, two Israeli students who live in Jerusalem said, “We just hope that they will catch him on something, some fraud, some… finally catch him, and the government in Israel will change,” they declared.