CNN logo

Yellow/Pathfinder/Warner Bros.

World banner

Netanyahu says he won't quit amid Israeli corruption scandal


Latest developments:

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 Party.

"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." icon (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." icon (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 his resignation.

"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.


Related stories:

Related sites:

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window

External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

What You Think Tell us what you think!

You said it...

To the top

© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.