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13 December 2019 - 11:27
News ID: 447973
Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to relinquish the four ministerial positions he currently holds in the face of his indictment on charges relating to corruption, bribery and breach of trust and a new general election, but will remain premier.

RNA - “He will cease being a minister by January 1, 2020 and appoint other ministers instead,” Netanyahu's legal team said in a Thursday submission to the court.

However, “The prime minister will continue to be prime minister, as per the law,” attorneys Avi Halevy and Michael Rabello said.

As of today, Netanyahu will not be the minister of agriculture, health, social affairs and diaspora affairs.

The announcement to the court came the same morning as parliament dissolved itself and set a date for a new election – the third within a year.

Earlier, the Israeli Supreme Court had received a petition from an Israeli NGO demanding that Netanyahu step down from all his positions in light of his indictments.

The MQG said Netanyahu's intention to resign as minister “was not enough,” describing his continued premiership “a terrible shame on Israel.”

“Netanyahu should fight for his innocence as a private person and not from the prime minister's office,” the NGO said in a statement.

On November 22, center-left political alliance Blue and White called on Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to order Netanyahu to immediately give up the four ministerial posts.

Mandelblit had announced his decision regarding Netanyahu’s indictment a day earlier.

“This is not a matter of politics,” Mandelblit said. “This is an obligation placed on us, the people of law enforcement, and upon me personally as the one at its head.

Soon after the top prosecutor’s press conference in Jerusalem al-Quds, Netanyahu railed against the indictment in a televised speech. He said the indictment was filled with “false accusations” and called it a “tainted investigation.”

He also described it as an “attempted coup” against him.

In response, Benny Gantz, the leader of Blue and White and Netanyahu’s main challenger in the two elections this year, wrote in a post published on Twitter, saying, “There is no coup in Israel, just a bid (by Netanyahu) to hang onto power.”

Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are suspected of wrongfully accepting $264,000 worth of jewelry, cigars, champagne and other gifts from wealthy businessmen for political favors in one case.

The Israeli prime minister is also accused of interfering with regulatory bodies and lawmakers on behalf of the biggest selling newspaper in the occupied territories, Yedioth Ahronoth, in exchange for positive news coverage and favorable stories about him.

Israeli lawmakers have less than a month to organize a coalition and select a lawmaker to lead a majority administration. There are strong indications that the legislators will not succeed.

Israel will have to hold elections for the third time this year in case Knesset members fail to garner 61 seats in the 120-seat legislature.


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