Speed Reads

Standing firm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains defiant with potential indictment looming

Israeli police have recommended that the country's attorney general indict Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in two corruption investigations, Haaretz reported Tuesday. Netanyahu is accused of taking lavish gifts from friends in exchange for political favors, and trying to curry favorable coverage with an Israeli newspaper by forcing its rival to charge its readers. On Tuesday, the prime minister claimed in a live TV broadcast that the recommended charges "mean nothing in a democratic society" and vowed to stay in office. Previously, Netanyahu predicted that Israel's attorney general would not indict him, even if the police recommended doing so.

A transcript of a 2014 conversation between the prime minister and the publisher of the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, obtained by Israel's Channel 2 news, quotes the latter as saying, "If we can come to an agreement … I will do all I can to make sure you stay here (in power) as long as you want. I'm looking you in the eye, and saying this as clearly as I can." Netanyahu has claimed that the publisher wanted to extort him and that he did not mean to accept such a deal, but the transcripts also show the prime minister asking the publisher "to reduce the level of hostility for me." In an unrelated but still telling incident, Haaretz also published audio of Netanyahu's son in 2015 drunkenly badgering a friend for money with which to pay prostitutes, saying in reference to a $20 billion gas deal, "Bro, my dad got your dad a sweet deal."

Netanyahu is the second-longest serving Israeli prime minister and a staunch ally of President Trump. In a statement about Netanyahu, the State Department touted the "great relationship" between the two leaders but insisted "this is an internal Israeli manner."