Almost half of Israelis want Netanyahu to step down after corruption allegations

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Israeli police on Tuesday recommended that Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on bribery and breach of trust charges in a pair of corruption cases, dealing an embarrassing blow to the embattled prime minister that is likely to fuel calls for him to step down. "We will continue to work together with you for the people of Israel until the end of our term", he said to a gathering of local government officials in Tel Aviv.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot attend a security counsel meeting at IDF Headquarters following the crash of an F-16 plane on February 10, 2018. A Hadashot News poll taken a day after the police said that Netanyahu should be prosecuted for corruption in two cases shows that the Likud would get 26 seats in a new Knesset, more than the party now has. The right-wing premier has strongly denied the police allegations, calling them "full of holes, like Swiss cheese".

The second case, dubbed Case 2000, involves a suspected illicit quid pro quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

Netanyahu says his government remains stable despite the police recommending that he be indicted. He accused police of being on a witch hunt, vowed to remain in office and even seek re-election.

Regev said in an interview with Israel Radio: "You're allowed to receive presents from friends".

A decision on whether to press formal charges against him now rests with the attorney general´s office, which is expected to take weeks or months to decide how to proceed.

Despite the evidence against him, Mr Netanyahu is standing strong - for the time being.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said any prime minister who has been charged should not be obliged to resign and Mr Netanyahu has said he would continue in his role.

In an emailed statement on Tuesday, after the police recommendations were made public, a spokesman for Packer said: "There is no allegation of wrongdoing on Mr Packer's behalf".

Asked whether they believed Netanyahu's version of events or those of Yair Lapid, who was revealed to be a central witness in the investigations against Netanyahu, 35% of respondents said they believed Lapid, and 30% believed Netanyahu.

Bennett, who has ambitions to be prime minister, heads the far-right party Jewish Home, which holds eight seats in parliament.

Avraham Diskin, a political science professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said none of Netanyahu's coalition partners had any incentive to rock the boat.

They have been investigating Netanyahu over suspicions that he and his family received expensive gifts from Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer. However, he could face public and political pressure to step down much earlier.

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