Bennett defends Netanyahu amid calls for him to quit over corruption probes

HaBayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett defended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's presumption of innocence, saying he is still fit to run the country. This comes as more and more Israeli lawmakers are calling on him to step down amid multiple corruption probes.
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As more and more Israeli lawmakers are calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to quit amid the latest developments in his multiple corruption probes, including some from his own coalition, Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Thursday projected business as usual.

Bennett, the leader of the religious-Zionist HaBayit Hayehudi party, one of Netanyahu's most prominent partners in his right-wing coalition, said Netanyahu is still capable of running the country.

"Matters of morality are for the voters to consider, and criminal matters will be dealt with by the law enforcement system," Bennett wrote to his party activists. "We strongly hope the prime minister is found 'clean' at the end of these procedures, for his own good and for the good of the State of Israel."

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, whose Kulanu party is another one of Netanyahu's major coalition partners, said on Wednesday he is remaining in the coalition "for now."

Last week, before the state's witness deal with Netanyahu's former aide Shlomo Filber was signed, Bennett voiced hope that Netanyahu is found not guilty, but added that the allegations against him, if true, are disturbing.

"Receiving gifts on such a large scale does not meet the expectations of the citizens of Israel," he said then, adding that the police's recommendation to indict Netanyahu are "unpleasant for every citizen in Israel and surely for the Prime Minister himself."

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