PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA)
Hours before the announcement on whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be indicted, US President Donald Trump said Thursday that the Israeli premier is “tough” and a great leader.
Trump said that while he was not familiar with the corruption probes, Netanyahu’s “done a great job as prime minister.”
He was speaking at a news conference in Hanoi, during his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“He’s tough, he’s smart, he’s strong,” Trump said in reply to a question from a reporter from an Israeli media outlet. “He is very defensive. His military has been built up a lot. They buy a lot of equipment from the United States, and they pay for it.”
The president also answered a question about negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, calling the process “the most difficult deal in the world... I’d love to deliver that deal. We have a good shot at peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”
The Trump administration recently canceled funding to the PA and to UNRWA, the UN agency that supports Palestinian refugees. “Why would we pay somebody that’s not saying nice things about us, and not really wanting to go to the peace table?” he asked. “And they’ve been much better – and we’ll see what happens.”
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has vowed
to thwart the deal.
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit is expected to indict
Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000, "the Bezeq-Walla affair," and for breach of trust in Case 1000, "the illegal gifts affair." No decision has been formally leaked regarding Case 2000, "the Yediot Aharonot-Israel Hayom
affair," but indications are that either the case will be closed, or the charge will also be only for breach of trust, not bribery.
Israel's 2019 elections are scheduled for April 9 and Netanyahu's Likud party has been leading in most polls. Ben Bresky and Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.
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