Bennett says PM allegations are 'unpleasant' but asserts he can stay in power for now

Naftali Bennett, Israel's Education Minister, has said the allegations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, if true, are disturbing, but added that the law allows him to keep his position until the Attorney General makes his final decision on whether or not to indict him.
Bennett at the Muni Expo 2018 conference in Tel Aviv Photo credit: Flash 90

A day after the Israel Police recommended to charge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, Education Minister Naftali Bennett voiced hope on Wednesday 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," Bennett, the leader of the religious-Zionist party HeBayit Hayehudi, said at a Tel Aviv conference. He called Tuesday's publication of the police's recommendations "unpleasant for every citizen in Israel and surely for the Prime Minister himself."

"However, the law in Israel is very clear," Bennett continued. "It states that a prime minister is allowed to remain in his position even after the police's recommendations. We are a state of law." He added that he will not call on Netanyahu to step down until the Attorney General makes his final decision on whether or not to indict him.

Until the Attorney General makes that decision, Bennett said, all sides should "behave with responsibility" and refrain from accusing the police of a coup attempt.

"On the other hand, some in the opposition have forgotten about the presumption of innocence. Their true goal is to bring down the right-wing government," Bennett added. "I expect them to demonstrate self-restraint until the process is over."

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