Netanyahu says he won't quit amid Israeli corruption scandal
April 17, 1997
Web posted at: 12:15 p.m. EDT (1615 GMT)
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
refused to quit Thursday in the face of a corruption
scandal. The decision on whether to prosecute Netanyahu and
three others named in a police report is expected by Monday
and could determine if new elections are called.
"This government is not going anywhere. We are not going
anywhere. We are staying where the people and history have
put us," Netanyahu said in a speech to activists of his Likud
"I am convinced the truth will triumph," said Netanyahu, who
has vehemently denied the allegations of influence-peddling.
The 47-year-old party leader's remarks were his first since
police stunned the country on Wednesday by saying they
recommended Netanyahu be tried for fraud and breach of trust.
Netanyahu's spokesmen also rushed to his defense.
Communications chief David Bar-Illan said Netanyahu will not
"resign, suspend himself or call for new elections." (472K/20 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
The recommendation was based on "flimsy and frivolous
evidence," Bar-Illan told CNN during a live interview on
Thursday. "We consider this a grave error." (475K/21 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Leak denounced; police respond
Prosecutors pored for a third straight day over police
recommendations to try Netanyahu over the appointment of
political crony Roni Bar-On as attorney general in January.
Bar-On resigned hours after the appointment amid public
outcry that he was not fit for the job.
Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein
promised to act by
Monday on a 995-page police recommendation to charge
Netanyahu, his director-general Avigdor Lieberman, Justice
Minister Tzahi Hanegbi, and political ally Aryeh Deri.
Netanyahu's Cabinet secretary, Danny Naveh, said someone had
leaked information about the recommendation, hoping to
influence prosecutors and topple the government.
But police countered with a statement saying they were
apolitical and acting within the law.
Parliament could remove Netanyahu
Opposition leader Shimon Peres said Netanyahu will be forced
to quit if he is indicted. Other Labor Party members -- and
even some of the prime minister's supporters -- called for
"The prime minister from the public moral standpoint in my
view is not fit to fill the job," said former Labor Police
Minister Moshe Shahal.
The head of Israel's parliament law committee urged Netanyahu
to take leave and demand that charges be brought against him.
Shaul Yahalom, of Netanyahu's coalition, said that was the
only way to put an end to the scandal swiftly.
Under Israel's new electoral law, Netanyahu would not be
obliged to resign even if convicted. He could be removed if
61 members of the 120-seat Knesset, or parliament, agreed.
Several allies have already hinted they may bolt the ruling
coalition and deprive Netanyahu of his majority in
parliament. The coalition now has 66 seats.
But Bar-Illan denied that Netanyahu's Likud Party support had
weakened because of the scandal.
"If anything, I think he would win an election handily if it
was called today," the spokesman said.
Jerusalem Bureau Chief Walter Rodgers and Reuters contributed to this report.
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