Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud MK David Bitan..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
“After the investigation is over, Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu should consider giving up the Communications portfolio” that he also holds, coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) said on Friday.
Meanwhile, seniors police officials told Channel 10 News that they were leaning toward indicting Netanyahu in both Case 1000 (regarding him allegedly illegally accepting gifts and benefits from businessmen) and Case 2000. In addition, they stressed that the investigation was ongoing.
Bitan spoke in reaction to Sami Peretz, editor-in-chief of TheMarker, during a Channel 10 News panel discussion on what police are calling Case 2000. Netanyahu is under investigation in the case, reportedly regarding allegations based on several recordings of conversations he held with Arnon “Noni” Mozes
, the publisher of Yediot Aharonot
, in which Mozes sought to conspire to weaken rival paper Israel Hayom
in return for favorable coverage in his paper.
When asked about supposed attempts by senior Likud lawmakers to create an alternative government, in case the prime minister is forced to step down, Bitan replied, “No one is planning anything. There are no ‘behind the scenes’ talks in the Likud about the day after Netanyahu. Nothing will happen and we believe in the prime minister.
“All these plots are a part of the media and the opposition’s attempt to topple the Netanyahu regime. They failed to do it the conventional way, so they are trying to create an atmosphere [as if there are machinations within the Likud against the prime minister]. They are trying to influence senior decision-makers and the attorney-general by doing so.
“As opposed to a [regular cabinet] minister, the prime minister is not obligated to resign if he is indicted,” said Bitan. “When the prime minister resigns, the government dissolves and he cannot return to his position [if he is found not guilty]. When a [regular] minister resigns, he can return to office at the end of the investigation.”
Next week, Yair Netanyahu (the prime minister’s eldest son), journalists from Yediot Aharonot and other politicians are scheduled to provide testimony to police as a part of the investigation.
Mozes is to be questioned early this week, after which Netanyahu is to be summoned for his third session of questioning.